J: I am Jaimee. I live in Birmingham, AL with my fiancé Tharius and our son Maddox. I am a working mother. I’ve been in advertising for 5 years. Currently, I am the Research Coordinator for Martin Retail.
Are you a single mommy? A married mommy?
J: I am engaged. Though my fiancé just processed out of the Army and moved from NY to AL. For 6 months I was an engaged, but single mommy.
Introduce us to your son.
J: I have one 7 month old son named Maddox. He is happily adventurous. He is in that stage where everything is interesting so he wants to pick it up, eat it, play with it, bang things on the floor or tables. He also has not gathered diving headfirst from the couch to floor is not safe.
I will also be step mommy to two kids ages 9 and 10, Anaryah and Cailand. Anaryah is the intelligent athlete. She wants to play every sport and ace every test. Cailand hasn’t decided what he likes yet. He’s willing to try every sport, but he’s more into science and animals so far. We’re just having fun letting them figure it out.
Can you tell us about your birth experience?
J: My pregnancy was easy. No morning sickness or abnormal pains (thank God!). So when I went into labor that pain was real for me. My contractions started in the wee hours December 30th, but when I went into the hospital I wasn’t dilating past 2cm and they sent me home. The labor started again in the wee hours on December 31. My doctor happened to be on call, but thought Maddox wouldn’t come until later. He must’ve really wanted to meet her, because we were admitted at about 3:45a and he was born at 5:13a.
Fortunately he came just at the tail end of his daddy’s holiday leave, and he was able to extend leave to spend the first two weeks with us.
Did you breastfeed?
J: I tried breastfeeding. I succeeded about 6 weeks (the length of my maternity leave). Without a regular schedule (or place) where I could pump, the milk dried up. It was difficult for me because I was made to feel guilty for not continuing to breastfeed because of the benefits it provides. I don’t think anyone realized how difficult it was to go back to work all day and try to keep that milk flowing. Some people rather close to me would make comments about my failure and (unintentionally) made me feel really bad about it. I’m sure hormones were still involved, but it took my doctor telling me it was ok to stop me from crying about it. He’s been on Enfamil most of his life.
How do you balance work and motherhood?
J: I am just now carving time out for myself. Maddox started daycare at 6 weeks when I went back to work, and since I didn’t see him all day I didn’t want to be without him when I was at home. Lunch time at work was my “me” time. Now that Tharius is here, I feel ok about seeing friends after work, but I always make it home before bedtime so that he can see me.
What is your biggest parenting challenge right now?
J: Blending families is proving to be more difficult than I anticipated. My stepchildren don’t live in the same state so we don’t see them often. When I want to plan family things there are a lot of schedules to work around. And because of the age gap between the kids it’s hard to find things for everyone.
Who is your child-rearing support group?
J: My sister is my go-to for everything. My nephew is 2 so she remembers everything pretty clearly. I also have several friends who gave birth within a few months of me so we exchange stories and advice often. When my husband was in NY, video chat was a lifesaver for interactions. Now, Tharius is very hands-on. With the recent move, he is still looking for full time employment so he is a stay at home dad until that happens. I have to say I am a little jealous when I come home and see they’ve been reading and playing games all day. He has become a super daddy in diapers, bottles and baths.
How do you determine that your son is well adjusted?
J: Maddox is always happy. Even when he cries, he takes a break to smile. If I can’t make him smile, something is wrong. I read a lot about milestones and average development to see what to expect and watch for at his age. If he doesn’t start on his own, I’ll begin to play with him to encourage things like rolling over or crawling. Then he just takes off with it. Our pediatrician is also very thorough in asking about his milestones and behavior.
What is the most important value, ideal or philosophy that you want to impart to your son?
J: A sense of adventure and yearning for knowledge. I always want him to be confident enough to ask “Why?” or to figure things out. I’m a bit of a nerd so I feel my knowledge has progressed me a lot through life. I want my son to have the same feeling of confidence and assurance of self that keeps him going and achieving.
What advice would you give to a new mom?
J: Just like every child is different and develops on their own, so does his/her parent(s). What your mom, grandmom, sister, girlfriend do may not work for you. And that’s ok. Try it. If you like it continue, if not try another method. It’s your child and your responsibility to provide the best life you can. Trust your instincts in your ability to do that. Also, let them be. As long as he’s not hurting others or himself, I let Maddox explore everything. I’ll take slob all over my face or water all over the bathroom because this is a new world to him. With every mess he makes he’s discovering or learning something. And I love that.