My partner and I met in Dallas, TX. I was living down there for work at the time and made friends with the only other women my age through my company. Since we hit it off and became best friends, she told me her boyfriend (now husband) had a single friend that she thought I would like. Michael, my husband, was hearing the same thing about me through his friend so he decided to come visit for the weekend. He pursued me for a couple months and I moved to Milwaukee (which is only an hour from Chicago). Once I moved, we visited each other regularly and became official. After 4 years, me moving back to Chicago and eventually moving in together he proposed. We have been married for 4 years, have a 3-year-old labradoodle and one son named Wesley who is two. I always call myself the basic b*#tch who lives in the burbs, drinks iced coffee from Starbucks and has a labradoodle that cuddles me every night.
When I say I am a “basic” I mean that in the sense that my birth was pretty basic as well. There were multiple terrifying thoughts that ran through my head while pregnant that I feel like society emphasized as having birth be this “horrible” experience. These thoughts included; “How much pain is labor”, “What if something bad happens”, and “I am terrified of the epidural”. With all that in mind I really had to undergo a mindset shift towards the second trimester because I didn’t want to think of the birth as something that was terrible and horrifying that was going to happen. In order to do this, I thought I would join a Lamaze class.
The reasoning of choosing this particular class, (because we all know how many are offered to us!) was the thought that Lamaze has been around for years! It was the one class I felt like stayed constant for so many years. Through this class I got educated not only on birth and the process but how to handle the days leading up to my birth and the day of. Obviously, it wouldn’t answer ALL of the questions I had but it made me feel better about the entire experience. My entire mindset shifted after this class from something that was once terrifying to an experience that was going to be unique and my own. It was like running a marathon. I knew as soon as labor hit that I had 24 hours before I saw my son and whatever that experience was in between I was open to what it was going to bring.
I saw my birth as something that could not be planned but an event that I would get through because I was mentally positive and ready. I was ready for that marathon.
The day came, or should I say early morning, where I started labor pains. It was around 2am and I didn’t know it was labor pains really until I realized I couldn’t go back to sleep. I got a text from my older brother around 2:15 am about a YouTube video on one of our childhood songs we used to listen to. Willie Nelson, Poncho was the video. “What are you doing up?” He asked. “I think I am in labor, but I don’t know,” I said. Also, curious as to why he was up I asked him. “That’s funny because Sarah (my sister in law who was due two days prior) is in labor and at the hospital right now. I don’t have anyone to watch the kids and was going to ask you but sounds like you might be busy since you are in labor too!” We both laughed at the fact that we might have our children on the same day… and we did! Both cousins who we call “The Gemini Twins” were born on the same day.
Either way this story is not about that but about my birth and postpartum story. I labored at home for 10 hours which the nurses said was AMAZING for my first. I felt proud of that. I wanted an epidural like I stated before and the moment of truth was exactly like I feared. Disclaimer: This epidural story is NOT normal. I found out during that I have a small spinal area which is hard to find. The Anesthesiologist had to prick me 4 times and tried for 45 minutes to find my spinal area to inject the epidural medication. She was unsuccessful. I finally told the nurses I needed a break and they abided to my request. Mind you, I was in labor sitting crossed legged the entire time they were trying to get the epidural to work. During the break they called the other anesthesiologist who came into the hospital 2 hours early just for me. He found it after 1 try! I did appreciate him numbing me up a little more because of the hassle I went through.
The rest of the day, like I stated before, was basic as a basic birth can be. The only other advice I would say to other new moms is to have your nurses check your dilation EVERY time you see them and or have your husband check. They forgot to check me during the night shift change and I was ready to go ASAP. I could have had that baby without them knowing because I didn’t feel anything below the waist. It was comical in a sense seeing the nurse realize I was ready to give birth, knowing the OBGYN was giving birth to another baby at the same time in the other room, then the nurses starting my birth process without my doctor. It was also funny when the nurses didn’t have the staff (because another baby was being born) and the nurse asking my husband to hold my leg. Either way my birth took an hour and half, so it was all good. Baby boy was born healthy and everyone was fine. (Yes, my OBGYN eventually made it!)
What I didn’t realize after the birth was that was the EASY part. Over the first year of my son’s life I completely lost who I was as a person. I didn’t know who I was as a mother and it ultimately led to a mild case of postpartum depression which brought on postpartum anxiety as well. Let’s start from the beginning of the first year with my son. My naïve mind told me that I only needed to take 3 weeks maternity leave and the majority of my life would be the same except now I had a baby. This was a choice I made with my company through my medical sales position because I didn’t want to lose out on the income or cut my commissions in any way. Looking back now I should have done the other option of 6 weeks 80% pay.
I was a new working mother and I really didn’t know how much my life was going to change. When you are figuring out a new life as a parent, trying to keep this little human alive, trying to breastfeed (because that was the thing to do) and going back to work, let’s just say I was surviving instead of thriving. Even when he went to his full time at home daycare at 8 weeks old, I still felt like the day to day was just me in survival mode. I was tired… PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY. It finally took a toll when I had my husband sit me down and tell me I was not ok about 9 months in. I was having intrusive thoughts about leaving the family altogether because “They would be better without me”.
I will never forget the time I was driving my son back from daycare crying my eyes out when my Dad called just to check in. I told him I wanted to pull into this stranger’s house, drop off my son, and just leave and never come back. I thought leaving him with a stranger would be better than being with me. That’s when I knew I needed additional help. I went to my OBGYN who ran some blood work on me to make sure all my levels were ok and then they told me I needed to see a therapist. Mind you, in the US the only postpartum checkups we get are a 6 week one to make sure we are healing and then every time the baby goes to the pediatrician, we get a survey asking if we are ok. I wasn’t ok, but I lied on the survey because I didn’t want to seem weak. Looking back now the strongest thing I ever did was get therapy. Let me repeat that for anyone reading. THE STRONGEST THING YOU CAN DO IS SEEK HELP.
I know that now. I also want to stress that my PPD was very mild, so I didn’t know if there was something wrong. I didn’t want to hurt my baby, I just wanted to leave. Intrusive thoughts can look different for different women and mothers. If you want to learn more, I did do an interview with a PPD therapist who wrote a book about the first year after baby. We both share our PPD stories as well. You can find that podcast episode here . Also, I have many other episodes that talk about my self-love journey and resources that can help find the “new you”.
As a working mother of one son for almost two years now I know how hard it can be to know HOW to prepare for baby on top of worrying about going back to work. The trials and tribulations of working motherhood is a daily occurrence for me since I have a full-time job in medical sales. Due to my own struggles of transitioning to working motherhood I want to take what I know; utilize the network I have and expose the hurdles I have overcome in order to better the lives of other new working mothers doing the transition.
Think of me as your BEST WORKING MOM FRIEND you didn’t think you needed until NOW! Along side of my full-time job, I also help new working mothers go from feeling unsupported in society and their career to having the work life balance they crave. That is why I created Bottomless MOMosa, a podcast for working moms which helps new Moms learn, laugh and grow in self-love and support each other.
The journey to starting my podcast for working Moms has been about 2 years in the making. It started as a general motherhood blog where I shared stories of mother’s trials and knowledge on experiences they went through. Fast forward to a year and a half after launching and I felt like I wasn’t being true to who I was. I wanted to focus more on creating a working motherhood podcast because I felt like that is who I was and there were not many resources out there to help new working mothers. I started niching down on new working mothers when I realized I wasn’t being authentic. I don’t read or write very often. I use audible to get through books. What I did know was that I spoke very well. That is when I decided I would take the concept of virtual mom brunch for new working mothers to a podcast platform.
I air a new podcast episode twice a week, one on Sunday and one on Wednesday at 11:30am - aka brunch time. Bottomless MOMosa is all about community and learning from one another. In a sense its like sitting down with your girlfriends to talk, chat, laugh and feel good. Everyone needs girl time. Topics include the general working motherhood emotions such as mom guilt, pandemic mom guilt, working with kids through a pandemic, postpartum depression, balancing motherhood and work and productivity. I bring on guests to talk about their own experiences but also to guide others in their expertise on certain working motherhood topics. I believe we can learn from each other as a community. I also share my own stories and knowledge on self-love and how I have gotten to where I am now mentally and what has helped me. You can find the intro to the podcast here.
I also just finished a FREE self-love workbook called Worrier to Warrior Working mom. This was made after so many working moms asked me what my secrets were to self-love and self-care. It includes my favorite life mantras, daily habits you can do to increase self-love, a short term goal setting guide and ideas on how to fit in self-care. You can find it here.
And finally, Every Monday I send out motivational emails to all my subscribers to start the week on a great mindset. Use this link to subscribe.
Fast forward two years and I am in a pandemic as a working mother with no daycare. A lot of families are facing these times of e-learning, working full time, providing for a family, etc. and there is no guidance on how to do it. No one has been through this situation before and we are learning but what I can say is that this situation is making us better parents and better mothers. With my husband and I working full time we had to accommodate for 2 months with our toddler being home with us. Toddlers are unforgiving when it comes to your attention and I can say that we endured yet another parenthood hurdle of being parents of a young child during this time.
Look, there are times that are going to look hard in the moment and from this experience I have learned that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Was it hard, tiring and mentally and physically exhausting? YES! Did it test my marriage and the way we communicate? YES! Am I thankful we didn’t have to do e-learning yet though? YES! We came out of this learning new things about each other and who we are as a family. It allowed us to be ok with saying no to certain things. It enabled us to be able to look at our values as a family and set boundaries for ourselves based on those values. We continue to do this as the pandemic moves on. Everyone is going to have their own level of comfort when it comes to COVID and what they are willing to do and not do. I have stayed sane through this because I have realized that you can only control you and your actions, no one else’s. When you realize that then everything else becomes easier.
Another VERY important aspect of the stay at home and going through this is SELF-CARE. I talk to soooo many other Moms through my community and podcast for working Moms and fitting in self-care is a MUST for the moms who are seeing true happiness in their life. All you need is 3, 5 or 10 minutes to yourself daily to make yourself feel better. It really is a mindset. If you need mindset tools, I created a FREE self-love workbook that goes through habits that you can implement in your life today to gain self-love and change your mind set on life. You can find that here.
I just want to leave you with knowing that everything you do is based on mindset. Your thoughts really do control the outcome of your life. If you think you are going to have a bad experience as a mother or even giving birth than you will attract that into your life. The pandemic is just one crisis in your life that you are going to have to get through. You are thriving not surviving.
Be patient, be flexible and most importantly be kind to yourself.
Liz - Mom of 1 - Chicago suburbs, Illinois, USA