It’s 3 a.m. and I can feel my eyes burn from exhaustion.
I’ve already been up four times — feeding, burping, changing diapers.
My son, Benjamin Allen, born five weeks early, is finally at home. We’re slowly adjusting to our new roles.
His, new to the world.
Me, a new mom.
I was someone who was unsure about motherhood. I wasn’t a girl who dreamt of being married or having children.
Yet, that dream became solidified when I began dating my now-husband, Christopher. It’s like something just clicked; and what my parents created for my brothers and I — an incredibly close knit family — I then wanted.
I wanted what I had growing up. My brothers as my best friends, my parents as people I confided in... creating some of the best memories I will cherish forever.The Timing
Over my lifetime to this point, I didn’t have much experience with babies or children.
I am the baby of my family, and it wasn’t until my nephew was born in 2016 that I really started to think about starting my own family. My brother and sister-in-law made it look so easy. Sure, they had days that seemed challenging, but they handled it with such ease.
I thought to myself, “I can definitely do this.”
Chris and I took the plunge and started “trying” August 2017. It was my first month off birth control after being on the pill for 10 years, and we were giddy with excitement to get pregnant.
The thing is, you don’t really know if you have difficulties or challenges with fertility until you actually start trying for a baby. I was unsure if being on birth control for so long could possibly prolong the process, or if we wouldn’t experience trouble at all.
Thankfully, we didn’t. My pregnancy was ‘normal’, until I went into preterm labor.
I got pregnant right away in October 2017 and my due date was June 26, 2018. The overwhelming joy we experienced was something we could hardly keep to ourselves.
I was fortunate to have had a very easy pregnancy. No complications or pain. I ate pretty healthy and gained an average amount of weight. Exercised normally like I did before I was pregnant. Every movement from my son, every inch of my belly that grew bigger, made me truly begin to understand the miracle of life and what a huge blessing it is to be able to carry and have a baby.
However, my pregnancy didn’t go to full term and the day after our baby shower, everything changed. I went into early labor. Our lives were changed forever.
Benny boy was born five weeks early and spent 16 days in Northwestern University’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Our worlds were completely flipped upside down, and the amount of stress and anxiety I had on top of hormonal shifts was putting me over the edge.
When Benny was strong enough to leave the NICU, we were in the process of buying our first home. So, we headed to the suburbs to live at my parents’ home until we were able to move in. It felt nice to have the support system of my family, but I was still trying to figure out how to adjust to my life as a new mom.
Even though I received advice from other moms throughout my pregnancy, and read articles, books, and blogs about motherhood, I was completely blindsided by the challenges of a new mom and struggled to find my new identity (still not there), especially those first few months.
What I’ve come to realize is this.
You can try to prepare and plan for the changes your body makes while you’re pregnant. You can also try to prepare and plan for going into labor and giving birth. But, nothing prepares you for the fourth trimester, aka the postpartum recovery period and your transition to becoming a mom.
I was not ready for the slap-in-my-face that the transition was for me.