Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

When You Don’t Feel a Bond to Your Baby

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

When my first kid was born, the bond was immediate. The labor was induced, due to preeclampsia, and it went quickly: six hours after the Pitocin drip started, I was holding my tiny, squirming little bundle in my arms. I had dreamed of a natural labor and delivery, in a birthing center, and worried that the change to a hospital birth with medical intervention would impact the bonding process I had read so much about. Instead, my heart broke open and I never loved someone so intensely as I did the moment I saw my precious boy.

Eighteen months later, to the day, I was in labor with my second boy. I had taken all the precautions this time, doing all the things my midwife had advised to avoid preeclampsia, and was actually going to be able to have a home birth this time. We would be in our safe space, without medical intervention, and it was going to create the ultimate bonding opportunity between my child and me. What I couldn’t anticipate, though, was that eighteen hours of back labor, a much longer period of time pushing than the first delivery I experienced, and a baby that was 50 percent larger than my first resulted in me feeling exhausted, pained, and hollow. I looked at my second baby, perfect in every way, and though glad he was safe and healthy, I felt little more than appreciation that the entire process was over.

At the realization that I was not over the moon as I had been with my first, that appreciation was suddenly replaced with a crushing sense of Mommy-guilt. Why didn’t I feel the euphoria I felt before? Why didn’t I feel that bond the second I saw him, as I had before? I had checked all the boxes, done everything right—what was wrong with me?

Turns out, the immediate bond with your child isn’t something that everyone experiences. In fact, 20 percent of new parents don’t feel that intense attachment the second they lay eyes on their new baby. Those feelings are even harder to come by if your birth is traumatic in any way, as having a child doesn’t remove the part of you that is human. Experiencing pain, emotional and/or physical, requires healing, and your brain may require that to happen first before a bond can occur with your child. Worse yet, there is immense pressure to suddenly have an entire identity shift with the birth of a child, so in addition to dealing with the difficult transition to parenthood, a lack of bonding can be accompanied with a giant helping of shame. Those negative feelings, isolation, and other biological factors can spiral into developing postpartum depression, and it’s important to recognize when extra support is needed. In the meantime, removing the pedestal we place motherhood on with all of its attached expectations of perfection allows for more opportunity to talk about the times where we don’t meet expectations.

Four years later, that second boy of mine is full of more goodness than I could ever ask for, and I am fully over the moon for all the things that he is. It took some time to get there, but that doesn’t make me less-than—it makes me human.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

Being Confident in Yourself as a Mother

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

img_2476As a woman, I struggle with being confident. Many of us do. It’s hard to be confident in ourselves when we are bombarded with images of beauty, perfection, and let’s face it–unrealistic expectations. When I became a mom, a whole new pressure was placed on me. I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to be the mom who knew what she was doing with my newborn. With my toddler, I wanted to be the mom who never had a child out of control in a store. Now, here I am with almost three little ones, and I find myself wanting to be the mom of three who has it together. I don’t want to be a hermit and hide from the world. I want to nurse confidently in public while taking care of two toddlers. I want to be able to go to stores and Starbucks with my little ones and get a latte without causing a scene. But most importantly, I want to be confident in myself as a mother.

I’ve heard before that you are the perfect mother for your children. There is a reason why you have the children you have with the personalities they have. Johanna, who is 4, has been a strong-willed little thing during her toddler years. However, as she is 4 now, I am starting to see a sweet, sensitive, and independent little girl. It makes my heart swell to know she is growing up. Could I have had something to do with that good stuff?

Moms are constantly judging moms. When your baby is born, you are judged for where they sleep, whether they are breast or bottle fed, and even how much weight you lose. It never ends. Did your little one meet milestones on time? What about any challenges? For us, we had some speech issues with Johanna and Levi had to wear a helmet for several months as an older baby. Did any of this make me a bad mom? No. Did any of this cause me to be insecure and feel unconfident as a mother? I have to say yes even though that’s hard to admit.

What about you mom, who do you want to be? I know I have found myself apologizing to my children on days where I fall short. I want them to see me as a confident person, not as someone who can’t keep it together. Now, don’t get me wrong, there will be days where you cry and say the wrong thing or teach your little one something you wish you could reverse.

When we are confident and calm, things just seem to go smoother with our kids. Take a grocery store trip. When I am calm and collected, I am less worried about how the trip will go. When I feel insecure I am pretty sure the lady at the checkout pities me. I definitely prefer the first feeling.

I think it’s important as moms to focus on the positive in our lives. Don’t dwell on bad advice or buy into the mommy comparison game.  Do what’s best for your family and focus on that. Pat yourself on the back occasionally.

Take the time for yourself, too. We are still women. Take a bubble bath or drink some tea. Go to dinner or a movie with a friend. Go get out in nature with your baby and get away from the distractions. Surround yourself with people who make you feel valued and loved.

I firmly believe being a mom is a gift. It’s not something to take lightly. So will I fail? Yes.  Does that mean I’m a horrible mother? No.

Karyn Meyerhoff lives and writes in Northeast Arkansas where she needs to be playing with her daughter and not working. 

Making Peace with Being Unproductive

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

 “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.” –Phyllis Dyer

 I used to put tremendous pressure on myself to get everything “just right.” And that often resulted in feeling frustrated. Because while I would approach each day with the very best of intentions to be super productive, the demands of caring for little ones quickly took over and trumped almost everything on my to-do list. Even something as simple as making a phone to schedule a dentist appointment would sometimes take days to cross off the list. It really shouldn’t be that difficult to find 10 minutes of quiet to make a simple phone call. Yet it is. Surprisingly so. Because when you finally get that window of opportunity your phone has 3% battery and you can’t find the charger, and you make the call anyway hoping it will be quick, but of course you are put on hold and battery gives out before you can complete the call. And now “buy new charger” is added to your to-do list.

A while back I might have felt frustrated about the inability to complete such a simple task in a timely manner; but I now know that it all eventually gets done. And whatever doesn’t get done (you know, like that stack of Christmas cards you bought that just sat on your desk until February 3 when you finally decided to pack them away and try again next year) probably doesn’t really matter much in the grand scheme of life. And that’s the other beautiful refinement that comes along with being at peace with unproductivity; you generally strengthen your ability to prioritize. When you know it is likely you will only get one or two things done, you tend to pick the things that count the most. Usually. But then occasionally the darndest thing happens and you find yourself concentrating on a silly task like reorganizing the spice drawer, even though it is the most impractical thing to be doing. The kids are hungry, the dog needs to go on a walk, you have to be out the door in 22 minutes and yet there you are alphabetizing your spice drawer. Why do we do this? And furthermore why does it bring us so much satisfaction? Honestly I don’t really have an answer except that it just feels good from time to time to channel energy into a fresh and unexpected way.

So give yourself permission to go with the ebb and flow of the day. Relax and know what needs to get done, will get done. Anything beyond that is just icing on the cake. It might even be the sprinkles on the icing on the cake. And when you get the weird crazy impractical urge to reorganize your spice drawer, just embrace it. Surely it serves some purpose, which may well just be to help us make sense of our day that seem so out of our control. Perhaps it’s like building a snowman in the snowstorm, instead of shoveling.

Taking Time for Self Care

Friday, June 17th, 2016

Taking Time for Self CareSelf care–such a basic concept but something so many of us moms stop once we become moms. We tend to shift our focus away from ourselves and instead focus on everyone else. That’s part of being a mom right? The fact of the matter is that if we don’t take care of ourselves then we probably won’t feel well enough to take care of the people we love in the best possible way. I was totally guilty of this!

Since it did happen to me I can be the first to admit that carving time for primary care can be really hard. Especially if you’re a working mom that is riddled with guilt about being away and then wants to do nothing more than spend time with their kids. Been there, done that.

So how exactly do you do that when your daily schedule is full? It can look very different for everyone depending on your interests. It doesn’t really matter what it is you’re doing as long as whatever it is makes YOU feel good and nurtured.

It took me a little time to figure out what I really wanted to spend time on that would make me feel like me again. We don’t want to spend time doing things we don’t really want to be doing in the name of “self care” because if you’re not really enjoying it you’re not really taking care of yourself.

A great thing to do is to make a “Primary Care Menu.” A whole list of things you can do, or want to try to nourish your soul and get you that special glow that you can only get from doing something you love. Some will probably require some alone time, some are things you can do once the kids are in bed. Find what works for you so you can stick with it.

Here are some of the things on my menu to give you some examples. Some are already a part of my life, some are things I want to bring back into my life and some are things I’ve always wanted to try but haven’t gotten around to yet.

Take an essential oil bath

Meditate

Journal

Do some yoga

Have a dance party

Take a knitting class

Play tennis

Read an uplifting book

Take a Jazzercise Class

Color in a coloring book

Scrapbook

Now that you’ve got some ideas, come up with a list that works for you and put it up somewhere you’ll see it every single day. Make it a priority to do something on your list every single day–even if that just means a 5-minute bath (without a small child!) or reading a couple of pages of an uplifting book.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor and online fitness coach. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception to those trying to get their grove back after pregnancy to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mom and baby.

Being Content in Your Stage of Motherhood

Monday, May 9th, 2016

being content in your stage of motherhoodMotherhood is such a journey. You have a baby and your world changes. It changes in so many ways for the better, and then there are the harder changes. You suddenly care way less about yourself and your world revolves around this tiny being. You get less sleep, wear more yoga pants, and drink more coffee, but your world is perfect. Or is it?

Motherhood is hard. Not all days are sunny and full of rainbows. We have hard days where we cry in the bathroom and need a friend or our mom to talk to. People are always saying to enjoy the stage you are in because it goes so quickly, but this can be so hard.

Does anyone else struggle with being content where you are? I have two amazing young toddlers who I wouldn’t trade for the world, and yet I find myself dreaming of days when they will be older, in school, or not as whiny. Awful? No. Real life? Yes.

Social media tends to make this worse for us moms. If you scroll through your newsfeed on Facebook, you see pictures of moms who seem to have it all together. I can think of a couple of these moms who continuously post their highlight reel. Kids in matching dresses on vacation, moms with perfect make-up, and their families are poised and perfect. We see these things and want what they have. We want to appear to have it all together. We want our kids to be the ones who always get along, never throw fits in Target, and we want to be the moms with perfectly kept nails and eyebrows.

Material things are also a struggle for us moms. Facebook is full of groups where you can sell your kids things and buy new toys for them. I honestly enjoy these groups, but I find myself having to take a break from them occasionally. We want the best toys. We want our kids to have the nicest clothes. We see other moms who have play rooms and outdoor toys and we think, “Man, if only we had a bigger house and money to buy those toys!”

I don’t have the answer on how to be content, moms. This is something I struggle with daily. With two little ones and one due this fall, I am finding myself desiring a bigger car and a house with another bedroom. But, do I really need these things? No. I want to choose to be happy with what my family has. I mean the important things aren’t the toys, clothes, perfect pictures, and immaculate homes, right?

I want to focus on the fun. I want to embrace toddlerhood and all of the crazy that comes with it. It’s okay if my kids don’t look perfect. My daughter has decided at age 2 that she can choose her wardrobe. It’s okay if we look a little crazy in Target and my kid is eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch to get me through a long list. It’s okay if we don’t have a big house or a new car.

I want to cherish my kids every day and the gift of being a mom. I want to be content.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 2 in Northeast Indiana where she loves the giggles, messes, and crazy outfits that fill her days.