Motherhood : It’s a Long Story

1999 – I finished high school a year late because my credits as a junior didn’t transfer properly from Michigan to Georgia. They wouldn’t accept my english course because the name wasn’t English 11, but rather “Words to Film,” so they put me back in eleventh grade. It was devastating because my entire childhood had revolved around the fact that I would graduate in 1998, not 99. And of course I was just ready to be done. At any rate, I wanted a high school diploma so I had no choice but to do the grade over again down here, and then complete my senior year, and finally attend graduation.

During my last year in school, I lived with my boyfriend after a falling out with my father. I couldn’t continue to live with my dad and my mom so I asked my boyfriend if I could move in with him. I was working part time (from 5pm-11pm) and going to school during the day. I graduated with all A’s. I was definitely proud of myself because it was not easy and I wanted to quit many times.

A few months after graduation, I became pregnant with Maggie. It was the best experience ever; I was so happy and excited about becoming a mom! My husband (by common law) was excited, too, but he was anxious about the financial part. He doted on me like crazy, lol. I continued to work until I went on maternity leave at about a month before delivering. My blood pressure was elevated so standing at my job wasn’t ideal; my doctor sent me home to put my feet up. Maggie was born a few weeks before her due date. My labor with her took ten hours plus two hours of pushing; I spent the first six at home. She was healthy and beautiful. I was two months shy of twenty years old when she was born.

2000 – Motherhood was easy for me to adjust to. I was seriously so happy and in love with everything about it. I loved caring for her, I loved how Stephen was as a father, and I felt like my life had amazing purpose.

I didn’t read books on parenting and we didn’t have a computer so I obviously wasn’t reading articles online. I trusted my ability as a mom, to do right by my daughter, and I didn’t compare myself with anyone else. If I had concerns, I asked women in my family and/or a doctor. I had an incredible experience with my first baby.

When I was pregnant with her, I was nineteen years old and in a committed relationship. I was responsible and mature, doing everything I should as an expectant mama. I took my prenatals, went to every midwife or doctor appointment, and cared for myself. My healthcare team treated me as the great mother I was. On top of good care, they were respectful and kind to me. I just assumed that my baby’s pediatrician would be the same but I was wrong.

My aunt insisted recommended (lol) her kids’ doctor to me so I took Maggie there when she was a few days old. I was surprised and disappointed by how I was treated. They wouldn’t make eye contact with me and the doctor was pushy. Maybe it was just the way they were with everyone but it made me feel like it was because of my age that they behaved the way that they did. Well, for whatever reason, I sure wasn’t going to stay with that practice.

I went to another pediatrician shortly thereafter and they weren’t much better. I didn’t feel like it was an age thing but I didn’t like the way they handled Maggie or how the doctor talked to me. Off to another doctor we went.

Finally, I found a practice who were kind and really listened, who handled Maggie gently, who looked me in the eyes. We stayed with them for many years and were happy with most of the experiences we had there.

I can’t be sure, but I believe it was somewhere between six and eight weeks after Maggie was born that I went back. I didn’t mind returning to work because my husband (by common law) was able to be home with her. We were able to coordinate our shifts so that we could alternately care for her.

And I liked my job. I was a manager at Blockbuster and I enjoyed the people I worked with as well as the work itself. Movies were a fun topic to discuss, the mood was usually upbeat, and it gave me adult interaction.

Because I was breastfeeding exclusively, we had to buy some bottles and I had to learn how to use a breast pump. I’ll never forget the first time I tried it; not realizing that I needed to squeeze the handle, I watched (and felt!!) in horror as my nipple got pulled constantly for several seconds!! Lol Anyway, I had to learn how to use it and hope that Maggie would accept the bottles we chose.

My shifts were only five or six hours long. We lived about ten minutes from the store so I didn’t have to deal with a lot of drive time. I would nurse Maggie right before I left, pump three hours later, and then nurse her when I got home. Stephen would give her a bottle of expressed milk around the time that I was pumping. It worked out really well. She had no problem taking a bottle from him. We used Playtex with drop-ins.

The pumping part itself wasn’t the best. I had a cheap, single electric pump and it was pretty uncomfortable. Any pumping mom knows that if the pump isn’t comfortable, the experience isn’t very good (nor is the amount of milk you are able to express). I was honestly pretty lucky that Maggie was okay with the amount I could pump. It didn’t help anything that I was having to pump in the employee bathroom which was cold, stark white, and had cleaning supplies on shelves, lol. It was annoying and I basically hated it. 😛

But I only had to do it for about seven months because I switched jobs when Maggie was ten months old and the conditions were far better. I am very thankful we were able to make breastfeeding and working…work.

You don’t necessarily know that you have an easy or laid-back baby until you have one who isn’t! lol When I had Maggie, my first, I was definitely in for a treat. While she wouldn’t take a bottle from babysitters (aka my parents), she would take one from Stephen, which was great because I had to work part-time.

She was easygoing and didn’t cry much. We could go places with her and she was happy. We could also adjust her bedtime according to what worked for my schedule and she was fine. Breastfeeding was unbelievably simple. She was just really easy and content.

I never liked the term, “good baby,” though. All babies, no matter their needs or temperaments are good! For heaven’s sake, all babies want to be relaxed and happy, some just find it very hard to be such.

A child’s temperament is definitely not about parenting. I once had a pediatrician tell me of my fourth baby that she was calm and happy because I was. Bologna! My second child was a crying mess and it had nothing to do with me. So, even though I’d love to credit myself with Maggie’s content, easy babyhood, I cannot. It was all her.

2001 – When Maggie was a baby and young toddler, we weren’t involved in mommy groups or anything like that – heck, I didn’t even know such a thing existed! But when she was twenty months old, I found out about a baby time at our library which was like the younger version of storytime. They had toys set out, we did bubbles with them, a children’s librarian read a few stories and we sang some songs. Maggie loved it and so did I. We went every week.

We met a few moms and their toddlers there; we exchanged phone numbers and started meeting up outside the library for play dates. We would go to playgrounds, or each other’s houses, or fast food restaurants with indoor play equipment. It was great.

The only issue it caused, which hung around for a long time, was comparison. Before this, I had never looked at other babies or toddlers Maggie’s age and compared her to them. Nor had I compared myself as a mother to any women. Before storytime and playdates, I had been confident and embraced us as individuals – as a unique family – but once comparison started, that confidence went away.

Around this time, I also began reading parenting books. I think I had read What to Expect when You’re Expecting while pregnant but that was literally it until her toddler years. All of sudden, I was finding books on potty training, time-out, picky eating, etc. And it made me feel simultaneously energized and worn out! I was not only comparing myself with real people, but also trying to decide which author’s research and opinions to listen to. I found it exhausting.

Eventually, I left the comparison scene but it took a number of years to get myself out of, unfortunately.

2002 – When Maggie was nearing her second birthday, my period was late. I took a test at home and it was negative, which disappointed me because I definitely wanted to be pregnant again. I think I waited another week or so and my period was still MIA so I went to my OBgyn because I was never late like that and I thought something was wrong.

The nurse checked my urine and came over and said something like, “Did you know you’re pregnant?” To which I was happily shocked. I told her I had taken a test at home days before and it was negative, and she showed me the test and said, “Yep, it’s super faint but it’s positive!” I was ecstatic.

I went home and I guess I told Stephen although I don’t remember doing so (did I block it out?). Two days went by and all I could think about was having two children. I was so excited. I daydreamed about how Maggie would be as a big sister. Would it be a boy or a girl? I had a feeling it was a girl, and we would name her Lucy.

On that second evening, while Stephen was at work and I was home with Maggie, I started bleeding. It resembled a normal period but the pain was monstrous. I was writhing on the floor of my bathroom while Maggie played in the living room. I had never experienced that kind of pain before and I was very close to calling 911 because it scared me. I don’t know why I didn’t, actually.

The next morning, I went to my doctor again and they did an ultrasound. I’ll never forget her words while looking at my womb, “There’s nothing there. I’m so sorry.” I was devastated.

I went home and cried harder than I’ve ever cried. I couldn’t believe what had happened. My baby had died. I hadn’t known that it could happen to an otherwise healthy woman.

I had so much bleeding that day and the next that Stephen and I actually had my older sister come over to be with Maggie while he and I went to the emergency room. They gave me something to slow down the bleeding. I am pretty sure they also did another ultrasound but it’s a blurry memory.

I grieved really hard and I thought I’d never recover. It surprised me just how agonizing it was to experience the loss of something I’d only had for two days. But I think it showed how much I loved being a mom. I absolutely adored being Maggie’s mama. She filled me with so much joy. Caring for her was the best and I wanted to do it again.

I experienced more losses down the road but the first one was the hardest.

My dad died that summer and it was hard on me. I found it challenging to get through because I had a fair amount of unresolved feelings about him that would take years to process.

I spent a lot of time with Maggie. We went on walks, and I took her to places with animals. We didn’t have much money so it was mostly free or low-cost places like state parks and nature preserves. I started getting really excited watching her learn and grow. It was so neat to see the world through her eyes.

Stephen was working at different places, usually holding temporary positions, and I was working at Babies R Us. We got to a point where he was working Monday through Friday and I was working the weekends. This was fine as far as Maggie’s care went, but it also meant that we never had time together as a family. I didn’t like it.

We moved in with my mom and sisters for about four months while Stephen went to a technical college to get his commercial driver’s license. This allowed us to save some money and for him to be able to get any driving job he wanted, whether that be a Class A (tractor trailers) or B (construction trucks). Living with my family again for that short time was a little bit fun but also pretty stressful. Most of our stuff was out in my mom’s garage. I was very unhappy with how things were going. I felt bothered that Stephen wasn’t caring for us in the way I wanted (nice house, good job, etc) and I was really upset that I wasn’t getting to have another baby.

A few weeks after Maggie turned three, I found out that I was pregnant.

This is a work in progress and I am adding to it as I have time. Check back later to read more of the story.

Updated Oct 2, 2020