This past week I had the opportunity to interview my friend’s mother, Susan. When I decided I wanted to do an interview series on motherhood I immediately wanted to interview her first. She is such a strong and caring person and has raised two amazing daughters, so I had to ask her some questions. So without further ado lets jump right into this interview.
What is your name, occupation, and the number of children?
Realtor, Assistant to Ashley Richardson of Long & Foster.
I have 2 girls.
How old were you when you had your kids?
25 & 28.
What were your pregnancies like? Were they easy? Any complications?
Easy pregnancies. Some minor upset stomach & issues with smells. During pregnancy #2 I couldn’t tolerate the iron supplements I was supposed to take. Gave me symptoms of having an ulcer even though I didn’t. Birth #1 was breach resulting in a C-section. Birth #2 was a planned C-section.
What is a common myth about pregnancy you’d like to dispel?
The ‘glow’ is because you’re ‘cooking’ a kid inside & you’re always hot. It is called sweat. It is not a beautiful time for a woman. Your body is changing so fast you can’t navigate a room without bumping into something, mood swings make you a raging maniac – happy to crying in a minute.
What was it like giving birth or having a C-section?
When you are told the plan is changing to a C-section at the last minute, the team around you takes charge & the expectations of the room change. Gentle prompting changes to firm directions & you need to listen to directions without panicking and trust in strangers to take care of you & your baby.
A planned C-section is very easy. You have been completely prepared for the experience. The most difficult thing to deal with is recovery.
How did your body change after your pregnancy? Was it what you expected or surprising?
The incision from the C-section tore open. The result was the wound had to heal open about 4 inches creating a misshaped scar that allowed my abdomen to heal misshaped, no flat stomach. It was never able to be repaired, and my lower abdomen always has a roll of skin that will never go away. It has left me with a challenge of how to hide the paunch ever since childbirth.
What do you wish you knew before becoming a mother/ giving birth?
How difficult breastfeeding would be. Not being able to produce enough milk is exhausting, frustrating, painful and makes you feel like you are inadequate because of the pressure to breastfeed. Lactation specialists pressure you to attempt breastfeeding and when it isn’t working, and your child is crying because they are hungry, they don’t give you options to help with the situation. Like so many other issues, the anxiety makes the situation worse. I wound up having a clogged duct that resulted in surgery. They had it wrong the entire time, and I felt like a horrible mother because I wasn’t able to breastfeed my child.
Do you have any advice for expecting, new, or “almost” (stillbirth/ miscarriages) mothers?
Nothing adequately prepares you for the experience because every person’s physiology is different. Having a doctor that you can open up to and have excellent conversations with. There is not enough conversation about the emotional & mental stress that can result when something goes wrong. If there is a loss of a child, hospitals should have a psychiatrist available to help the parents through it/to evaluate the parents. Your partner should be there for as many office visits as possible. This is a life-changing experience that is happening to them, too. Birthing classes are good, but there is much more going on that they need to know & may have questions about.
What do you like most about being a mother?
Watching your child experience something enlightening & positive for the first time by themselves.
What do you like the least about being a mom?
Seeing your child in pain and not being able to do anything about it. It doesn’t matter if they are young or grown. There are times that the individual must work through something difficult & as a parent, you can’t make it easier or take away the pain. All you can do is love them & support them the best way you can.
How did motherhood change your body image and self-esteem?
Nothing is the same after birth. My self-esteem was shot to hell after my incision opened and has never recovered. I have never understood why it could not be repaired. But it was what it was & I moved on.
What myths about motherhood do you want to dispel?
You will not always like your child. You may even hate them from time to time.
There will be times that they will test your resolve in such clever ways you will be amazed.
Motherhood is not rewarding, it is hard. It is about creating a person who will be able to become an individual that will be able to make good decisions in their life.
Would you go back and do anything differently?
For myself, I would have gone after the doctors to repair my incision. For my children, I would have touched them more. Physical contact (like hugs & holding hands) create a strong connection with young children. I would have been more intrusive in their lives as adolescence. Even though it is a time in their lives to be more independent, it is also a time when they are making more questionable choices and involvement at that time is crucial.
If your children are old enough what was it like when they left home? Empty nest syndrome at all?
It was tough and wonderful. My children were prepared and ready to be on their own. The most difficult thing was not having them here to talk to when I wanted to. Everyone in our house yells ‘Hello’ when they walk in the front door & I missed that. My daughter also took her dog with her & that was an adjustment not having a welcoming living thing around when I would come home. Getting used to my husband when the last child left was pretty easy, but there is an adjustment period with that, too. Our home is not quite the ‘empty nest’ as we have an elderly parent living with us. We are a true sandwich generation.
Why do you think motherhood is not talked about enough/ kept hush? Have you noticed a movement nowadays to counter that?
I don’t know that is true. With information available electronically I believe that is more information available. ‘Talking’ is up to the individual to some extent. There are groups & chat rooms all over the internet. I think women will compare notes about their experiences readily after birth. My experience is women are supportive of each other in conversation. It may be good to have women & men come into health classes to have further, open discussions with youth to let them know learning about sex is not enough.
What advice would you like to give to your children?
As parents themselves, never compare your children to each other. They are not alike. Help them find their natural talent and nurture it. Always teach them their decisions have consequences that they will have to deal with – good & bad. Anger is natural, but it doesn’t solve anything, a conversation is the only way to solve a problem. You are not alone unless you choose to be. When life is challenging reach out to others for help & inspiration.
Thanks for sticking around to the end! This will be an ongoing series and I want to interview as many mothers from as many backgrounds as possible. Comment down below to let me know what you think! Stay tuned for the next interview!