Nicole gave birth to a healthy baby girl at 37 weeks pregnant. Her journey was one filled with many ups and downs. From sheer panic before delivery to a very painful recovery, one thing is for sure, Nicole is a bada** woman. Read her story below:
What did you struggle with the most during your birth?
Our daughter, Stella, was born at 37 weeks and 1 day, taking us by complete surprise three weeks early. This is what I struggled with the most during birth - that nothing was planned, no bags had been packed, and instead of feeling excitement and joy, I felt fear and panic. She was supposed to be growing safely inside me for three more weeks - will she be alright? I spent the early hours of labor in complete disbelief of what was actually happening.
Physically, her nursery and our home were more than ready. Emotionally, our hearts had been ready for a while. But mentally, I was nowhere near ready. We didn’t even call our parents until well after we had checked into the hospital “just in case this is a false alarm.” Yet, my water was actively breaking, and my OB had exclaimed “you’re going to meet your baby soon!” just minutes earlier on the phone, when I didn’t know if my water was breaking or I had just lost control of my bladder.
Her birth was such a beautiful and empowering experience, but I still struggle when I recall those negative, panicked emotions I felt giving birth before I was mentally ready. Stella was born perfectly healthy, and the whole experience made me a thousand times more grateful for a supportive and calm husband, and incredible parents and in-laws who dropped everything to come help us, three weeks before they had planned.
Have you taken time to process being a mom? Do you find it hard to acknowledge all that you do in this role?Honestly, I am still processing it every day. I have the blessing and privilege of being a stay at home mom now, so “mom” is my whole identity. I don’t necessarily find it hard to acknowledge or accept this new identity, but I am still processing what it means and what it looks like for myself and my family, and how I can make the most of it without drowning in it. I’m learning new things every day, making small progress toward “figuring it out,” and trying to remember that Stella is only little for so long, so the days spent kissing her and sniffing her (other moms do this, right?!), and feeding her, and rocking her, are just as successful and wonderful as days spent vacuuming, and going to yoga, and making dinner. It’s a balance that I am most definitely still processing and figuring out!
What do you love most about motherhood?
So. Many. Things! There was a time that I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a mom, but now I can confidently say it is the best choice my husband and I have ever made. The best part, of course, is Stella. I love watching her grow, and discover the world, and learn new things. I love her sweet personality and the way she looks at me and her daddy and her fur-brother, Arthur. I love that she was made out of pure love and that my body gave her life. I also love the person I am becoming as a mom. I truly feel like I am blossoming into the best version of myself, as I navigate each challenge motherhood throws my way. And I love the way my relationships have changed, all for the better. With my husband, my mom, my mother-in-law, my siblings, my friends. It’s like we’ve opened a new door that wasn’t accessible before motherhood/parenthood, and it has fostered such deep, beautiful, and meaningful connection.
Has being a mom changed you? If so, in what ways? YES! Becoming a mom has changed me in so many ways, big and small. I still feel like the person I’ve always been, but just a different version of that person. A version who loves to stay home on the weekends, and worries about the world that Stella and her young peers will inherit one day. Even at five months old, I know that Stella is watching my every move, and for that reason I now think twice about everything I do and say. I want to be her best example of a kind, empathetic, intelligent, thoughtful human. My heart has doubled in size, I cry when I read birth stories, and I no longer stress about my floors being dirty. Again, I think (and hope) becoming a mother has changed me in the best way possible.
What resources helped you during your pregnancy and/or postpartum?
I loved prenatal yoga at Haumea and wish I would have done more of it! And now Stella and I love going to the Ohana social group and mama/baby yoga at Haumea. It is truly the best community of women (and lots of cute babies!). I found some great resources via social media that I used during pregnancy and continue to use postpartum, such as Expecting and Empowered, Taking Cara Babies, and The Bump. My favorite books during pregnancy were Bringing up Bébé and Nurture. And most importantly: my own inner circle of women! My mom and mother-in-law, my sister-in-laws, my cousin, and a few close friends were (and continue to be) my Google and my go-to crew for any mom and parenthood related questions. It’s so nice to have people who I trust, and who have done this mom-thing before me to share their best advice and life hacks when I need it most.
If you could go back and give yourself advice during your pregnancy, what would you tell yourself?I think my best advice would be given to my early postpartum self. I was very, very unprepared for the difficulty of those first few weeks, mostly related to my own healing. I knew that newborn life was challenging, and was fairly prepared for that, but didn’t quite realize the challenges that my own body would give me. Stella was stuck in the birth canal for quite a while, which resulted in an episiotomy that provided for a very painful few weeks of healing. I amazon primed every single thing that friends and mom blogs told me to use to help with healing down there, but nothing seemed to work for me besides soaking in a warm bath a few times a day. (Sounds lovely, I know, but finding free time for a leisurely bath while taking care of a newborn and learning how to breastfeed isn’t easy!) That being said, I would tell myself to SLOW THE HECK DOWN! It’s okay to lie in bed and snuggle your baby all day. It’s okay not to leave the house. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to shower every day. I wanted to go for walks, get ready every day, take Target trips with Stella wrapped around my chest, and resume a somewhat normal life. However, I learned the hard way that the postpartum season isn’t a time for “normal” or productive or anything of the sort. Productivity during this time is nothing more than loving and feeding your baby and taking care of yourself!