Substance and Soul

Thoughts on this whole motherhood thing - year one

MotherhoodSamantha WetterholmComment

Emma was born one year ago. Well, one year ago plus two days. So like, 365 days plus two. So 367 days. But who is counting. Obviously me. But it feels like it was just yesterday. Wait. Where was I? Oh yes.

I would do it all again. And again. And again.

When I found out that I was pregnant, I think my eyes bulged out of my head. It took me all of 0.34 seconds to run into the room, jump on top of a sleeping Paul-shaped body, and shove an oh-so-hygienic pregnancy test in his face screaming, "We're pregnant!!!!" I thought that was the beginning of the toughest months of my life (I still hate you morning sickness), but OH NO I was OH SO wrong. 

Those early days with the tiniest human I have ever held were incredibly scary, exhilarating, nerve-wracking, crazy, hectic, and positively perfect. And hard. Oh so hard. Like the hardest.

So tiny. The tiniest. But actually felt pretty huge en route. 

Here she was, in my arms, and I still remember that moment perfectly. Not only did my eyes bulge out of my face again, but I felt that my heart was now on the outside of my body, residing in this little bundle of chunk and angel kisses. And all the thoughts came rolling around. Would I break her? What if I stepped on her? Am I ready for this? I am, or are I, or will I be? Wait, I am. 

So today I would like to share with you what it's really been like during year one of the whole motherhood thing. It's a tell-all. An E! True Hollywood story. Except kind of weird, mostly crazy, sometimes tough (okay, really tough), but one hundred percent amazing. 

Hello world, this is Emma Grace. You're welcome.

In The Beginning

Those first few weeks. HOLY CARROTS. Those weeks. Those crazy weeks. How did I even survive them? Oh yes, wine. Just kidding. Kind of. They were hard. Like really hard. Like really, REALLY hard. I constantly worried. I didn't sleep. She cried and I thought the sky was falling. I worried about everything from if her diaper was too tight to if she had the right number of blankets to if her socks matched her onesie. I am a woman of odd obsessions. 

But really, I felt kind of numb to it. I think I went into survival mode. It was just eat, sleep, poop. For her, not me. Subtract the sleep part for me. Paul and I had to just figure it out. Our families were only able to stick around for a few days then it was just us verses the tiny human. She is still winning that double-team. 

I am not even going to go into the post-human expulsion healing that needed to occur. That was all kinds of icky. So sore. The sorest. 

I am fairly certain that between the post-partum hormone drop, the sleep-deprivation, and the stress of my new guardianship role, I was going a little stir crazy. However, I found that diving into the mommyhood Instagram world on the daily helped with the sanity issue. Mamarazzi, at your service. 

Breastfeeding

Oh yes, the B-word. I have a bone to pick about that one. I have heard for literally years about the challenges of pregnancy, morning sickness, weight gain, and overactive bladder. I thought the hard part was over. But oh no. Breastfeeding is a beast. 

Everyone was like, it's so natural and you and your baby will just get it and it's genetically encoded, hashtag mammals, hashtag evolution. Well I have two words for you. YEAH RIGHT. (And maybe a few other choice, four-letter words.) Breastfeeding had to be the hardest thing about new motherhood.

Emma didn't latch properly, I was filling up with milk with no where for it to go, and she lost a pound of her birth weight. Queue the freak out and an emergency call to a lactation consultant where I cried like the failure I felt and Paul felt all kinds of helpless. 

Those were cheeks full of milky goodness.

But......... we figured it out eventually, thank the sweet Lord. But then... pumping happened. I had to pump like crazy when I finally went back to school and never felt like I had enough milk for her hungry eyes. After buckets of tears, I finally accepted what I was capable of and importantly, what I couldn't do, and we began supplementing with formula and never looked back. 

Here's how I see it. You do you and Imma do me. Ya dig? Let me de-gangsterfy that for you. While we love breastfeeding. We also love full tummies. Enter, formula. Each family needs to figure out what works best for them. Your baby picks up on your vibes and my high-stress-not-making-enough-milk vibe was no bueno. The second I decided to supplement, a weight was lifted off my body and what do ya know, the milk flowed freely and we were all happy campers.

We did a combo of breastfeeding, pumping, and formula for the first 10 months of her life and now we are occasionally nursing for comfort and on our way to weaning.

"Make it work." - Tim Gunn 

Sleeping

Remember when I used to sleep through the night and sleep in until 10am then wake up casually and make pancakes? No, I don't either. Emma has always had a tough time with those long stretches of sleep. In the beginning, she would nap for only one-ish hour stretches and sleep for two to three-ish hours at a time at night before wanting to chug that milk again. Even now, her naps require the perfect conditions and she has a love-hate relationship with her crib. 

What can I say? The girl likes to snuggle. 

That's right. I'm talking about you.

What about that taboo co-sleeping? Oooooo, spooky sounds. While I was aware of the recommendations and risk factors associated with co-sleeping. That was quite often the only way any of us would get any sleep. At first, she slept on one of our chests while we sat up in bed and took turns getting that elusive shut-eye. Then we moved to her sleeping in the basinet next to us while she was all swaddled up (speaking of swaddling, DO IT), then she slept between us for a long time and nursed while we slept (praise GOD). Right now we are on to crib sleeping most of the night then moving her in with us when she fusses at 3 or 4 am.

This one is still pending. 

Milestones

When will she laugh? When will she sit up? When will she roll over? When will she perform the can-can? When will she recite the Gettysburg address? So many things to consider. 

Everyone always says, just treasure those early days because they go by so fast! Yada, yada. It has been interesting to juggle those feelings of treasuring the moment and wondering what she'll do next. Not to brag or anything (but I totally am, momma gotta do what momma gotta do) but she hit those milestones early and often.

The day she picks up a book, sits on my lap, and starts reading to me, I will just explode. You've been warned.

This is one of my favorite photos of all of ever.

The Juggling Act

I am constantly asked about how I manage to juggle motherhood, wifelyhood, and dental studenthood. Well I'll tell you - wine. Just kidding. Sort of. But really, I don't know how I do it, not really. Like, I have no specifics. Well wine does help. And so does an incredibly hands-on and supportive husband. He's my rock. He's my fella. He's father-extraordinaire. 

A few things have become glaringly obvious though. Well quite a few. Priorities shift. Habits change. Your reality is now connected to a tiny, needy human. 

Here comes trouble. Wrapped in a sugary coating. 

One. Nothing will be clean again. Like ever. (Screams of agony are heard in the distance.) I have had to accept two notches down from my normal obsessive uncluttered space and allow the dust motes to settle in all nice and permanent like. C'est la vie. 

Two. Things will jiggle. I have a nice little layer of squishiness all up and down this baby-making body of mine. While I continue to work on that whole "fitness" thing, I have come to love my insulation. I've named my right love handle Margaret and my left love handle Thatcher. The gang's all here.

Three. Identity crisis. This is back to that whole juggling thing. For a while, I felt like just a milk machine, destined to live with a nursing pillow glued to my torso. But after some time, I started to feel like myself again, just a slightly different version of myself. Samantha 2.0. Samantha part 2. The mother formerly known as Samantha the single. Say my name, say my name.

And suddenly I see what her teenage years will look like. 

Relationship Status

They say marriage after baby is tough. Well whoever they are, they are right. It's tough. But it's also pretty damn amazing. You become a team. You become even more connected because you have created this beautiful little thing who relies totally on you for everything. I have never run a relay race before, but I assume it was modeled after new parenthood. We tag out when we have had it up to our eyeballs. We pick up the slack. He's the Yin to my Yang.

"She's our lobster." - Phoebe Buffay

Marriage is a challenge in and of itself. But add in a screaming, needy, hungry person (meaning me) and things can get rough. We have cried. We have yelled. And we have pushed each other to the limits. But we are still a team. And now we have a ball girl. A caddy? A water girl? Who am I kidding? She's the star and we are on the bench.

Yes we are those people. The matching ones. You can roll your eyes now. 

We have made it a priority to check in with one another in our marriage. Yes we have this special person who needs us all the time but we also have people in our lives who love to watch her while we slip off on a date night. Or date day, because our bedtime is 8 pm. We trust that God will provide for our family and we just focus on getting through the day-to-day craziness. Living la vida loca.

This was one of those day dates that we let her tag along. She bought the first round of drinks.

Odds and Ends 

Motherhood is just so darn wonderful. We made this little person and I get to be her mother forever. And ever and ever. Looking at her little adorable face while she looks back at you and loving her so much that it almost kills you. Wow. It's powerful stuff. 

Just call her smiles for days Wetterholm. 

With it, you get the sweetest smiles, the giggles that sound like music, the tiny whispers of mama while she drifts off to sleep. It's worth it all. It's worth everything. Every last diaper bomb. Every last milk spill. Every last splatter of oatmeal on the floor. Every tear. Every smile. Everything. 

If you need me, I'll be smothering this one with kisses and hugs. 

Because you're her mom. Her momma. Her mother. Her mommy. Forever.

And ever.