I had the pleasure of interviewing my friend Amanda for my Motherhood series. You might remember her from my previous post, “Hanging Out With A Dental Hygienist.” When I decided to start this series I knew I wanted to interview this amazing woman. So without further delay lets jump into this interview!
What is your name, occupation, and the number of children?
Amanda Edmonds, I’m a dental hygienist, and I have one child.
How old were you when you had your kids?
I was 18, almost 19 years old.
What were your pregnancies like? Were they easy? Any complications?
I experienced an easy, seamless pregnancy. I have a history of premmie babies in my family, which I was told there was no scientific correlation, and then my daughter was born 5 weeks early. She was happy and healthy, just small and jaundiced, so that would be my only complication if that counts.
What is a common myth about pregnancy you’d like to dispel?
Morning sickness can really mean all day and night sickness… I didn’t suffer too badly, but my heart goes out to the women who do. Nothing like having a parasite that also makes you violently ill…and you are supposed to be happy about it! Oh, and pregnancy fatigue is REAL! You are literally growing an entirely new human, and it makes you TIRED! Unbelievable tired, so expectant mommas need support!
What was it like giving birth or having a C-section?
My giving birth experience was incredibly easy. I didn’t know I was in labor; I started spotting, and my doctor wanted to see me. When I arrived, I was told I was 4 cm dilated and having contractions, and my response was, “No I am not, I was just shopping at Walmart!” My doctor informed me that I was not leaving without a baby, broke my water and then the party started! I had a few real contractions, then received an epidural. This kept the pain under control; I could still feel when I needed to push but did not have excruciating pain. I was in labor for a total of 15 hours, and I pushed for around 2 hours.
How did your body change after your pregnancy? Was it what you expected or surprising?
Surprisingly, my hair changed a lot during pregnancy! It is less curly than it used to be and tends to pull red hues now, maybe as a result of the hormones. I would say my hips widened a bit after delivery but no other major changes, which I feel lucky about.
Did you have any cravings while you were pregnant?
I craved cheese during the first trimester and red meat the remainder of my pregnancy. I used to say to my husband, ” Please don’t talk to me until I eat. I don’t want to be mean to you!”
What do you wish you knew before becoming a mother/ giving birth?
I am actually glad I was blissfully unaware! I didn’t read a lot of books or research, I believed nature would take its course, and it would be as it should. I remember once seeing a diagram in the doctor’s office and seeing how a pregnant woman’s organs are displaced during pregnancy and being horrified! I don’t think you are ever fully prepared for the enormity of the responsibility or the love that you feel instantly when you lay your eyes on your child.
Do you have any advice for expecting, new, or “almost” (stillbirth/ miscarriages) mothers?
Expectant mothers need to be patient with themselves; they are growing a whole other human being. Rest when you need to, give yourself and your baby the best nutrition you can, and be the best you that you can be for yourself and your baby. New mothers; do the best you can! You won’t be perfect, you will make mistakes! Be perfect in your imperfection, stay consistent and remember to laugh and take care of yourself. Miscarriages and stillbirth mothers, I can’t imagine the pain. My heart goes out to any mother (and father) affected. The only advice I could say in this situation would be to let others help or console you in any way you feel is appropriate.
What do you like most about being a mother?
I love being able to share my life experiences with my child and lead and guide her into being a happy, healthy and productive citizen. When she was a child, I loved watching her develop her own thoughts, opinions and especially a sense of humor! She was and has always been a very headstrong individual, so parenting was sometimes a challenge, but I would not have had her any other way. I love knowing that our daughter, my husband and myself are a team that will navigate through life together, that through thick and thin we have each others’ backs.
What do you like the least about being a mom?
For me, it was hard to always be the rule stickler, “the bad guy.” It was a necessary role, but sometimes it would have been nice to be “the fun one.” I had A TON of fun with my child and still do, but I know my primary role is as her mother and I will always be there with guidance and or advice when it is asked of me.
How did motherhood change your body image and self-esteem?
I felt really proud to be a mother, a role I valued over any other. I was proud to “get back to my old self” body-wise, but I didn’t place a significant burden on myself immediately for that. I was more focused on being happy and healthy for my husband and child, and the rest fell in to place.
What myths about motherhood do you want to dispel?
I think with social media, many mothers are more honest about motherhood. Shocker…it isn’t always easy or fun! There are times you are exhausted, depleted, almost defeated and you carry on. You juggle a million things at once, you play a million roles for every person in your life, and your responsibilities are endless. It is nice to see the “Stepford Wives” image disappearing and the image of mothers doing their very best for themselves and their families and being perfect in their imperfections. Sometimes you may scream, cry, forget something, but at the end of the day, you are doing your very best, and that is commendable!
Would you go back and do anything differently?
I would not change anything because I would not want to change any aspect of the outcome. If I had a crystal ball, I would like to have completed college before having my daughter, just regarding making it easier to manage. It was very challenging to be a full-time student, wife, and mother; it would have been ideal to have had some “frivolous” time before taking on all the responsibility, but I would not change a thing. I would, looking back, not be so hard on myself and not worried so much. I knew then, and I know now, that I always did my very best for my family, so less obsessing would have been nice!
If your children are old enough what was it like when they left home? Empty nest syndrome at all?
When our daughter left home, my overwhelming emotion was pride and excitement for her. She went to Randolph-Macon College, a beautiful school with a tight-knit community. She has had every opportunity I could have ever hoped for and will continue to. I was fearful, in the crazy world we live in, that she would be safe living on her own, but I know I have raised a smart, independent and self-sufficient young woman, so I had to have faith in that. I miss her, but we have grown even closer, keeping in touch with calls, texts, facetime, and tagging each other in silly social media things! We often visit and make the most of the time together. We have learned mutual respect, now that we are both women; I will always be her mother, but I now get to be her friend too.
Why do you think motherhood is not talked about enough/ kept hush? Have you noticed a movement nowadays to counter that?
I think it is being talked about way more now, thanks in part to social media. I think women are more comfortable supporting one another and being honest with our challenges. I think it was a long time coming and a very welcome change.
What advice would you like to give to your children?
YOU ARE IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT. This world can be whatever you make it. You teach people how to treat you. Make the most of every situation, talk to people, SMILE. Do something sweet for people, put positive energy into the world. Pause, Think, Plan. Call your mother and father, they miss you, and they understand more than you think! Find a partner in life, a real partner, who will be with you through thick and thin, support one another, love one another and LAUGH! Save your money, take trips, and have experiences. YOU CAN DO IT IF YOU WORK HARD. Be humble, love hard and be the best person you can be. I am proud of you, and will always be here for you.
What was it like breastfeeding? Was it strenuous? Did you have difficulties?
I was a breastfeeding failure. Tried for two weeks, got the colostrum to her (rich in immunity) but because my daughter was a premmie, we had a lot of difficulties and finally gave up, which was disappointing, but it was what it was.
How did having children affect your intimacy with your partner? How has your relationship changed?
My husband and I are now closer than ever, but raising a child/family has its challenges. You absolutely have to set expectations, be patient and loving to one another and help each other out. I was always the “stricter” parent, which was hard, but especially recently we have learned to back one another up, even if we don’t always agree. There is a special bond in raising a child together, and a love that gets stronger with that experience.
What was it like when you got home with your baby? Did you have help? If so how did your support system help you out?
My inlaws, mother, and grandparents were a strong support system for me, which I am eternally grateful for. My mother babysat at least one day a week and helped me tremendously during my daughter’s childhood. She even helped with meals and chores when I needed which was amazing. I hope to be able to be that for my daughter and grandkids one day.
Did you plan your pregnancies? Did you plan the gap in age between your children?
We were not preventing our pregnancy, and we have only one child.
What are some innovations/products you wish you would have known about when you first had your children?
It is amazing all the new products they have now! I go to baby showers and hardly recognize some things! We could not have lived without our swing and baby wipe warmer. I am amazed by the new baby monitor/cameras…that would have been helpful, instead of the walkie-talkie devices we had! In all honesty, I think we need fewer gadgets than we think, but I couldn’t have lived without the wipe warmer!