dear first time mom: what 5 pregnancies has taught me

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Dear first time mom,

I was hoping we could chat. I noticed how tired you look, & after our conversation about how difficult many things are about new motherhood, it got me reflecting, as I often do these days.

I remember my first pregnancy, & my second, even, my third & fourth often as times of dread. I dreaded the morning sickness, the widening hips, the fuller face, the ever growing belly that seemed to get in the way.

Pregnancy has never been easy for me, but I think with this fifth, I finally got something right. Or rather, I now have a bit more experience and perspective under my belt and I’ve learned a few things. I was hoping I could share with you.

 

6-months-pregnant

 

1) Pregnancy is a temporary state.

It doesn’t last forever.

 

2) Infancy is a (very) temporary state.

It also doesn’t last forever. (& neither do those sleep broken nights–it will return to “normal” someday in the not so distant future.)

 

3) Your weight will fluctuate. You will gain, you will lose. And it doesn’t matter.

With this pregnancy, I can step out of the shower, look at my naked body, a growing child under that swollen belly, and finally think, you are gorgeous! (I wish I had realized this sooner.) ย I had never thought that before with prior pregnancies, & it makes me a little sad. Why has it taken me so long to realize the beauty & miracle of creating life?

 

4) It gets better. So much better.

I think the hardest time in a woman’s earlier adult/mid-adult years is the transition to motherhood. In my experience, mothering was never more challenging than when I had my first two babies–they were only 15 months apart. I was inexperienced, young, though full of energy & good intentions, which were my saving graces.

I often found myself wondering: “how do moms do it with more than 2 kids?” I’ll tell you how–because I’ve discovered the secret–kids get older! They become more independent & helpful with each year, lightening your load. When you have one or two or three little ones under 5, you have very little help. Everything is on you. Believe me, I know.

But then a magical thing happens. They grow. They mature. They learn how to help, and they can even provide interesting/funny/entertaining conversation beyond just coo-ing or gibberish. It’s amazing to watch another human being flower before your eyes & think: I was responsible for this.

 

joseph-and-me

 

5) I was always envious of those women who “just loved” pregnancy.

What?! Was I missing something? I hated nearly every bit of it. I wanted it to be over with asap.

But now, this pregnancy is different. I have some of the fruits of my labors before me–I see what pregnancy is. What it really is. It’s not puffy ankles & unwanted weight gain. It’s the ultimate creative act. It’s the beginning of a life–a little human being that is unique in every way. The making of a little person who will someday grow into a big person who will make you feel things you never thought you could feel–a variety of empathy and love, that in order to fully comprehend, must be felt and cannot be adequately defined with words.

With each child, your heart grows, & you realize that love, is exponential. There are no limits, and having that knowledge, of experiencing it, is an incredibly empowering thing.

I know things are hard. But I hope in sharing this with you, you can realize what I have, but much sooner. Maybe every woman needs to come to these things in her own time, on her own terms. But, what I know is this: the power you have to create another human being is a blessing, not a burden. If only I’d known that sooner.

Much love,

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Comments


  1. Anja
    on January 23, 2014 at 12:47 pm said:

    Dear Janae,
    I have a 13 months old daughter and I am again in a phase in which she does not sleep very well. So I am sleep-deprived. I find myself getting really mad when she tries to go back to sleep but cannot really and I am too exhausted to get up or even totally wake up. And then I realize (a little to late in my opinion) that it is not her fault at all. I was wondering how you stay calm during very challenging times. I think this is one of the things that will and already is very challenging to me.
    Thanks for your advice and this wonderful post. I love your thoughts and congratulations to such a wonderful family!
    Anja

  2. Dana
    on October 21, 2013 at 7:46 am said:

    Hi Janae! Just popping in to say what a gorgeous photo that is of you and your main squeeze. What a beautiful couple you and Joseph make! Love that you are posting again and sharing your life with us. It’s like having a sister across the miles! Thank you for sharing the journey. Hope you have a great week.

  3. Jaime
    on October 18, 2013 at 10:17 pm said:

    Janae I have recently re-discovered your blog and love it! This post brought me to tears, we have 4 and my youngest is two. Pregnancy has always been rough for me as well, with morning sickness lasting throughout most of the 9 months. But once that little one is in my arms it is pure bliss. You are beautiful and glowing and I look forward to reading more.

    • Janae Wise
      on October 19, 2013 at 8:40 am said:

      Hi Jamie! And thank you. It’s nice to hear from you.

      “morning sickness lasting throughout most of the 9 months.”
      That is such a bummer. Morning sickness is so hard. Mine went away almost completely around 20 weeks, but it began to subside around 14–I can’t imagine an entire 9 months of it! Bless your heart for doing it several times!

      Hope you’re doing well, & thanks again for saying hello.

  4. Tracey
    on October 17, 2013 at 7:29 pm said:

    Thank you, this is just what I need to hear. I have been feeling a prompting lately that the time has come (and no specific time exactly) to begin considering adding another child to the family. I am scared out of my mind as I have two, 20 months apart and 3 years old and under. Not to mention my husband is in graduate school. Pregnancy was relatively easy for me, but having two toddlers at this time has been one of my more trying times in my short little life. I feel quite overwhelmed as a mother most days, stressing if I’m doing a good job or not. Thank you again. I really needed to read something empowering and positive about motherhood. You are inspiring!

    • Janae Wise
      on October 17, 2013 at 7:49 pm said:

      Tracey, thank you for taking the time to comment. I know it’s not easy–deciding if, when, & how many children to have. For us, it’s always been a matter of discussion, prayer, & more discussion. Ultimately though, no matter how much we’d like to think we’re in control of our fertility, I believe it’s still a process that cannot be corralled or manipulated as we’d sometimes like. If I had my way, I would have been pregnant 3 months sooner this time around, but it didn’t happen that way, & for that I’m actually grateful (now).

      You’re in the best days–the days when they need you & love you & can’t wait to be showered by your attention. Truth is, all stages are marvelous, but there’s something special (albeit exhausting) about those very early & tender years when you are their whole world. I’m of the opinion that if both you & your husband are up for it, you won’t regret the decision to add another to your family. But again, it’s a very personal & intimate decision that each couple must make. ox

  5. Sabrina
    on October 17, 2013 at 2:27 pm said:

    Beautifully written! You are spot on. However, the time for us to have #4 I feel is approaching (we are enjoying an over 2 year gap, for the first time!) and I still feel a sense of dread for the sickness and the sleepless nights. Life is basically survival during that time, and I feel like I have to brace myself for it. Absolutely worth it, but still so hard for me to fully embrace.

  6. Kathleen Bagley (not your mom)
    on October 17, 2013 at 10:58 am said:

    You ARE gorgeous, Janae.

    • Janae Wise
      on October 17, 2013 at 12:26 pm said:

      Shucks, Aunt Kathleen. You’re making me blush. ox

  7. Dani
    on October 17, 2013 at 10:56 am said:

    Beautifully said. I will definitely keep this in mind when I am pregnant with my first. The knowledge of experienced mommies is always appreciated and priceless.

    • Janae Wise
      on October 17, 2013 at 12:25 pm said:

      Ah, thank you Dani. You are sweet.

  8. Living on Love
    on October 17, 2013 at 10:55 am said:

    I love this. I have been a little worried about Baby #3 lately, simply because of my other two. I keep thinking this little baby won’t know peace. He or she won’t have a quiet place to nap, because the 3 and 2 year-olds will be screaming and running around the house, being crazy and fun. But it will be wonderful, as well.

    • Janae Wise
      on October 17, 2013 at 12:25 pm said:

      “I keep thinking this little baby won’t know peace.”
      That’s okay! My most mellow child (my 3rd) shared a room with her brothers for her first 4 years of life. Talk about no peace!

      “But it will be wonderful, as well.”
      Yup–& it’ll be lots of work, but anything worthwhile is lots of work :).

  9. Joya
    on October 17, 2013 at 10:46 am said:

    Wise words and beautiful pictures! A mother’s face has so many stories to tell and I love to see the joy shining from yours.

    • Janae Wise
      on October 17, 2013 at 12:22 pm said:

      Thank you dear Joya. ox

  10. Kristen
    on October 17, 2013 at 9:53 am said:

    Beautiful words! Beautiful pictures! I love that picture of you and Joseph. You two look like you’re over the moon. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have a 4 year old and 1 year old… two sweet girls. We toss around the idea of having more children all the time. Thank you for the shining new perspective! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Janae Wise
      on October 17, 2013 at 12:21 pm said:

      Thank you Kristen.

      More kids is always better, but then again, I’m a bit biased…:). In my opinion, it’s just more love to go around!

  11. lfwfv
    on October 17, 2013 at 9:23 am said:

    I love hearing you say that kids getting older is a good thing. My little man just started walking a couple weeks ago, is getting soooo big (where did my little 6lb3oz newborn go??!), and I am desperately craving a newborn again! I love love love my little guy to bits and am having a blast watching him learn and grow (and the intentional snuggles are heart-melting), but I also find myself grieving and pining for the memories of nursing my newborn for hours at this time last year. It is encouraging to hear you saying you embrace your kids growing up.

    Funny how we’re all different…i mostly loved pregnancy, and appreciated my body during that time, but post-partum healing of my belly and pelvic floor has been slow and that has been the hardest for me to accept. Things are finally starting to heal a bit, but it’s been a rough road of accepting that this is part of the “creating new life” journey, and i wouldn’t trade that new life for anything. Definitely a character-developing process though…

    And i would love to have you explain more about how your body-image has changed over the last few years. I’ve certainly noticed a change in your blog posts over the years, but it’s been a slow and subtle shift and I would love to know more ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Janae Wise
      on October 17, 2013 at 12:19 pm said:

      I remember exactly how you are feeling right now Tanya–a little bit of sadness about your child no longer a baby, a longing for times past. But, here’s the good news–this is why you have another! Eventually, of course, you stop having children, but then they grow up & hopefully have kids of their own & the whole beautiful process starts over again.

      I LOVE watching my kids grow up. It’s so much fun to enter new stages of life with them. For example, Hyrum just started cub scouts this year–so fun! Amalia just started dance & I love seeing how excited she is about it. Also, I can have real conversations with my kids now–especially my 8 year old. They get things. They’re smart. They’re talented, & they say & do the most surprising things, things that I say, “well sheesh, I had nothing to do with that, isn’t that cool that they have their own personalities?”

      I think I’m complete opposite of you, in terms of loving pregnancy, having a hard time afterwards. I’ve never had very much of a recovery with any of my births (except maybe the first where there was some tearing). As soon as that baby comes out, I’m just soo happy to not be pregnant, life is grand. I’ve been blessed with no complications before or after (except with my first, before I knew better–diet-wise).

      “I’ve certainly noticed a change in your blog posts over the years, but it’s been a slow and subtle shift and I would love to know more :)”
      Yes, I wondered if anyone would notice. It has been a subtle shift in thinking, in actions, & I’m at the point now where I feel like I can open up about it on the blog. This will be something I will post on soon.

      Thanks for your thoughts! ox

  12. Erica { EricaDHouse.com }
    on October 17, 2013 at 7:13 am said:

    Beautiful! I’m still undecided on kids but I’m hoping if I have them that I can learn to love pregnancy for the incredible gift that it is.

    • Janae Wise
      on October 17, 2013 at 8:16 am said:

      The choice to have children certainly is not one to be taken lightly. There are so many factors to take into consideration, but Joseph & I often say how parenting has changed us, has made our lives better in so many ways. For us, it was absolutely the right decision ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. April
    on October 17, 2013 at 6:38 am said:

    Great post! I am really happy to hear you talking about embracing your pregnancy body. I have to be honest and say I was always a little sad for you to hear you say you thought you were heavy during certain times. Because you never looked heavy to me. I thought you were too hard on yourself. I love hearing that you are softening. I also completely agree about the getting older. I know a few people who have one child who ask how I can do it with three and others who are new to three who ask how I can do it. While it’s hard the getting older is the KEY. Taking my 2 oldest-4 and 7 year old-out is a vacation for me! They are talkative, interesting, and just plain FUN. They were not that way 2 yrs ago when I had my third.

    Thank you for this great post!

    • Janae Wise
      on October 17, 2013 at 7:42 am said:

      “I was always a little sad for you to hear you say you thought you were heavy during certain times.”
      I think I really need to do a post & explain exactly what has changed for me, in terms of embracing my body & appreciating it for what it is, rather than what I think it “should be.” It’s been a process, & I think it deserves more attention.

      “I also completely agree about the getting older.”
      I used to think I’d be so sad to see my babies grow up, because after all, who can deny that babies & toddlers are just melt-your-heart cute (most of the time)? But a wise woman I once knew shared with me that her absolute favorite part of being a mom was when her kids were teenagers! Yes, teenagers. She said it was so exciting to see them develop & discover things, & that you get to be a part of it. I’m beginning to see what she was saying. Yes, there are a multitude of struggles & hard things, but overall, being able to be part of their lives is pretty amazing.

      & I love that taking your older kids out is a vacation. It’s fun when they can start to really engage with you on a more adult level, isn’t it?