26 Apr Welcome to motherhood
by Kiera Oluokun
The moment I welcomed my son, Ezekiel, in August 2017, I was overcome by a wave of emotions.
Finally coming face-to-face with the tiny human that grew inside of my body for 10 long months was an indescribable feeling — a feeling that I had never felt until that moment. This was a day that I had dreamed about for many years. As a little girl, I remember having baby dolls and mimicking the nurturing duties that I had observed from my own mother.
When I found out that my husband and I were expecting, I started researching as much material as possible to prepare for my new role as a mom. Unfortunately, as I have come to realize in my short 20 months of motherhood, there are no real “guides” that prepare you for raising children. I speak frequently with new moms to get a glimpse into what their motherhood experiences have looked like.
I had an opportunity to speak with four new moms about what motherhood has been like for them thus far. From the working moms, to the law enforcement mom, to the “two under two” mom, each shared what they have gained and been challenged with in their new role.
• Hematology/oncology nurse
• Mother to Benjamin (11 months old)
What has been the most surprising thing that you have learned from being a new mom? I never knew that I would love being a mom as much as I do! The love that I have for my son is hard to explain! Being a mom is the most difficult and the most beautiful thing I have ever done!
What are the biggest challenges that you have had to overcome in motherhood? Motherhood can at times be very lonely! I wasn’t expecting that.
Breastfeeding was also very difficult. It had always been described to me as something so beautiful and amazing. No one prepared me for how difficult it would be in the beginning and how much of you it consumes!
Yes, it’s beautiful now, and I am so grateful I get to have this experience, but it was a long road to get here.
What advice would you give to those preparing for motherhood? The days are long, but the years are short. Don’t wish away any seasons with your little one. They may be difficult, but they are over so quickly.
What advice was the most beneficial to you when preparing for motherhood? SELF-CARE! It’s so important. Take a shower, go on a walk and get out of the house! You will be a better mom to your little one if you take care of you some, too!
What has been the biggest adjustment? The amount of spontaneity in our lives has significantly decreased! Now that Benjamin is here it is much harder to just get up and go! We have to work around his feeding times and naps and moods! Life has changed but it’s so good.
• Insurance Agent at McGhee Insurance Agency
• Mother to Baker (20 months old) and Adeline (2 months old)
What has been the most surprising thing that you have learned from being a new mom? I have learned that it is okay to be a little selfish and take some time for myself. There are days that I just need a break.
I’ve also learned that it’s okay to ask for help when I need it. Sometimes getting help is exactly what you need in order to be a good mom. Being a mother is so rewarding, but it is also difficult, and I’ve learned that I don’t have to do everything on my own.
What are the biggest challenges that you have had to overcome in motherhood? When I was pregnant with Baker, I had these ideas of being the perfect Stepford mom. I would make the best homemade cookies, always have educational Pinterest activities, and, of course, we would never use the television as a babysitter.
Then life happened.
If I do find the time to make homemade cookies, I have most likely burned them. I have not executed one single Pinterest activity, and some days it feels like Elmo and Daniel Tiger are just a part of our family. I don’t have to compete with the Pinterest moms of the world to be the best mom that I can be to my kids. I pour everything that I can into them, and that is enough.
What advice would you give to those preparing for motherhood? Accept the season that you are in — even if you are exhausted. The newborn stage can be tough, but it goes by in an instant. While each stage is fun and exciting and there is so much to look forward to, love the one you are in because it all goes by so fast.
Try to relax, enjoy it all and know that one day your child WILL sleep through the night.
Also, make time for you and your husband. Our first date night after Baker was born was spent shopping at Carter’s and talking about him all through dinner, but it was still some time for just the two of us and was much needed.
What advice was the most beneficial to you when preparing for motherhood? I was told that on the hard days when you feel you are inadequate, just know that God specifically designed you to be their mom. You are exactly who they need. The God of the universe chose me to be Baker and Adeline’s momma, and that is such a blessing.
What has been the biggest adjustment? Adjusting to the madness of the newborn stage while also having a toddler!
When Adeline was born, Baker was 18 months, so my attention has been split. I cannot be there for both kids at the same time even if they both need me. I have to be okay with one of them being upset while I am taking care of the other. Knowing what need is more pressing and having to deal with that child before helping the other can be hard because you want to make it better when your kids are upset. Baker had to adjust as well because he used to have all of our attention, and now he has to share it. Adeline never did get our full attention, but she does get a big brother who loves her fiercely, and they will grow up being so close. Sometimes it is difficult, but I wouldn’t change a thing!
• Business development specialist at Conway Regional Health System
• Mother to Kennedy (23 months old)
What advice would you give to those preparing for motherhood? Try not to be too hard on yourself, especially during the first few months of the baby’s life. Your hormones are all over the place, you’re probably not sleeping, and it’s all about survival at that point. If you’re getting out of the bed every day, you’re killing it.
What advice was the most beneficial to you when preparing for motherhood? “Your baby doesn’t know that you don’t know what you’re doing.” It was good for me to realize that she doesn’t have expectations for me, and as far as she’s concerned, I’ve got everything under control.
What has been the most surprising thing that you have learned from being a new mom? This sounds cheesy, but I was completely caught off guard by how much I love that girl. It freaks me out sometimes to think about how much power she has over everything that I do and every decision that I make. It’s truly unlike any other feeling in the world.
What are the biggest challenges that you have had to overcome in motherhood? Guilt. Guilt all the time about everything. Guilt about wanting to work, about what foods she eats, about not being strict enough and then about being too strict. Being a mom, for me, has meant accepting that I won’t do everything right, and that all I can do is be the best mom I can be and hope I’m making the right decisions.
What has been the biggest adjustment? By far the biggest adjustment is how hard everything becomes. You can’t just jump in the car and go somewhere — you’ve got to pack up not only the kid but everything that comes with them. Life is way more fun with a baby, but it’s hard work!
•Patrolman in the Army/1st Lieutenant in Army National Guard
• Mother to Hezekiah (20 months old)
What has been the most surprising thing that you have learned from being a new mom? The most surprising thing that I have learned as a new mom is that my son is not a mama’s boy. He is totally a daddy’s boy. I thought that he would be all about me from the jump. In reality he only wants me when he needs me; other than that, I don’t exist. He is all about his daddy — attached at the hip.
What are the biggest challenges that you have had to overcome in motherhood? My biggest challenge as a new mom is learning to let go. My son is well developed physically and mentally and can do a lot of things by himself, but it’s hard for me to let go. Allowing him to learn things on his own and be a “big boy” is hard for me because he is my first and my little treasure. But thank God, his daddy knows how to tell me when to stop, and I’ve gotten much better.
What advice would you give to those preparing for motherhood? Get a wipe warmer, a humidifier and a bottle warmer. Also, trust your instincts. Everything will come naturally. Some things that you think you can’t handle will just come as if you have been doing it for years. The bond you have with your kid is unlike any other.
What advice was the most beneficial to you when preparing for motherhood?
Let my boy be a boy and get him out of our room and sleeping in his own room ASAP!
What has been the biggest adjustment? Just learning to juggle life being a wife, a mother and having a full-time job is not always easy. Fortunately, I was blessed with an amazing husband, and together we’ve been able to adjust very well to having a kid.
Our son will be 2 years old in a few months, and I honestly can’t remember what life was like before we had him — in a good way! Our son makes our lives so much more exciting, and without him, we wouldn’t be able to call ourselves a family.