V: Hi! I’m Vanessa and my husband and I just moved to Durham, North Carolina from Los Angeles, CA where I lived my entire life.
I am now a SAHM after working for two years in higher education. I was the Director of Admissions for a small university in LA. But when our daughter came along in December of 2012, I realized I wanted to be with her for the first few years while she’s young – I didn’t want to miss anything because of work. My husband has a full-time job in the software industry so we are making ends meet on his income. It is still taking a bit of rearranging with our finances to live solely on one income but the payoff of being able to stay home is worth it.
I’ve been married since April 2011.
Tell us about your children.
V: So far, we only have one. A little girl named Kennedy Rae. She is pure joy. Seriously, I didn’t know I could love anyone as much as I love her. She is 9 months old and just started crawling and pulling herself up onto furniture and standing alone for a few seconds at a time. She started eating fingers foods, like o-shaped cereal and small pieces of fruit. I love to hear her “talk”, laugh and see her smile.
Tell us about your birth.
V: Kennedy was due January 11th but I started getting serious contractions on Christmas Eve — two and a half weeks before her due date. I didn’t think much of them at 10:30 pm when they started because I had been feeling Braxton Hicks contractions all month long (I would have a contraction here and there but nothing consistent). After a couple hours, when these contractions didn’t go away I decided to sit in the bathtub hoping the warm water would help them subside. It was 1 am when I decided to do this. I sat there for 30 minutes and they eventually went away. So, I got up and went to bed. Then, I woke up at 2:15 am in excruciating pain that caused me to roll out of bed and onto the floor. I was on all fours at our bedside for a couple minutes then decided to move to the living room, so my husband could sleep. My goal for delivery was to labor at home for as long as possible and then go to the hospital when I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. Up until then, the contractions were bearable. They hurt, but I didn’t feel like I was going to die. Which, by the way, I think the media sets women up to think. All the movies and TV shows that show a woman in labor make it look like she is dying or close to it. It looks awful and scary and terrible. But the truth is that contractions just felt like more intense period cramps, which I have every month already.
Anyway, I wanted my husband to sleep as long as possible because 1.) he is a hot mess when he’s tired and 2.) I didn’t really need him to do much for me just yet. So from 2:15 to 5:45 I laid in our living room floor next to our furnace with a blanket I stole from our couch. Rocking back and forth from being on all fours to laying on my side. Contractions would come and go and in between them I was able to sleep for 5 minutes stints. But at 5:45, I couldn’t take it anymore. By this time my husband was up pacing the house, not really doing anything but mindlessly picking things up and putting them back down. Looking busy. He was nervous. I told him I think we needed to go to the hospital. He said, “Okay, um, let me just wash the dishes so they won’t sit in the sink while we’re gone.” I said “Okay, yeah, that’s a god idea.” Literally 5 seconds later I had a monster contraction and looked at my husband and said, “No. We need to go to the hospital NOW.” So, off we went. We got there at 6:15 am and when I walked through the doors, I was making all kinds of moose sounds. The nurses opened up a room for me and checked me to see how far along I was. The first thing the nurse said to me was, “Oh! you’re complete. You’re ready to push.” I said, “What?! Really? Oh, Lord. Oh sh*t.” And so, I pushed for 30 minutes and our beautiful baby girl was born at 6:47 am. 6lbs 4.5 oz and 19 inches long.
Do you breastfeed? How do you juggle breastfeeding and managing your home?
V: Yes, I breastfeed. I am still breastfeeding. It allows Kennedy and I to continue to foster our mother-daughter bond. Also, I wanted to overcome the challenge of breastfeeding and see if I could actually stick with it for at least a year. And I breastfeed because it’s free. Since I don’t work, I do not have to worry about bottles and pumping (except for when my husband and I leave Kennedy with a sitter) or reactions to milk or soy based formula.
What is your biggest parenting challenge right now?
V: My biggest parenting challenge right now is getting Kennedy to sleep through the night. She still wakes up, on average, twice a night. I know she is capable of sleeping through the night but she wakes up out of habit. She will cry until I offer the breast but once I do, she’ll only feed for a couple minutes before she’s asleep again. That’s how I know she’s only doing it out of habit and not because she’s really hungry. I’m working on trying to shorten the feedings so hopefully she’ll eventually stop waking up so often.
Who is your child-rearing support group?
V: When I was living in LA, I had an enormous amount of support as a new mom. I was part of a parent-education class that met weekly, part of a women’s mentoring group that consisted of several mothers and a group of moms that met in the park for a playdate every week. Some might say it was social overload, but I didn’t have any siblings or close family accessible to help with the induction to motherhood (outside my own mother who is a great help, but not a peer) like some women do. So, it was really necessary for me. I am still on my journey trying to get plugged into support groups in our new city.
My husband is great with Kennedy. He is very helpful with diaper changes, feedings and taking her off my hands when he comes home from work so I can do other things (usually cook dinner) without having to keep her entertained.
How do you determine that your daughter is well-adjusted?
V: When my child is not crying, I figure she’s well adjusted. ? Kennedy smiles and laughs a lot. She is not afraid to be held by strangers or be close to dogs or other animals. I think those are signs that she’s well adjusted for her age.
What is the most important value, ideal or philosophy that you want to impart to your daughter?
V: I really hope that one day, when she is older, she decides to follow Jesus. I will do my best to show her what it means to follow him but I know that I am the farthest thing from perfect and will mess up along the way. I just hope that she develops a positive view of God during her childhood so she will trust him when she’s an adult.
What advice would you give to a new mom?
V: Cuddle with your baby a lot. Talk to her. Smile at her. Sing to her. Read to her. Be present with your child. Other than that, I would say, try to get a good schedule/routine for her so that you don’t go crazy. Keep doing hobbies that you did before baby came. Ask other moms how they do things. Find an older mom friend who is just a little bit further along than you — maybe has more or older children and ask her for insight. Also, be nice to yourself! Motherhood is hard. Mistakes will be made but it is not the end of the world when something doesn’t go the way you hoped.
Vanessa is a new writer for Baby and Blog! Look out for more content from her in the coming weeks ?