On April 24, 2013 (my mom’s birthday), I found out I was pregnant. While Dom and I hadn’t necessarily been “trying,” we hadn’t not been trying either. He got back from a nine month deployment to Afghanistan and we had talked in the past, quite a bit, about becoming parents, but we hadn’t actively taken that leap until I got off birth control in October 2012. We knew we wanted to try having a baby when he got home in March 2013, but we didn’t think I would get pregnant less than two weeks after he got back. When April came around, I didn’t have any obvious symptoms, but a friend of mine, Kaidy, had told me that when she was pregnant, she had trouble sleeping — she would wake up in the middle of the night, wide-eyed, for no reason, and she wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep for several hours. On April 23rd, I had a strange night of sleep, woke up with a weird feeling, and called my mom. I made it to two stores to get the test I needed, made it home, and saw those sweet, sweet double liens. I was elated. I called Dom, sobbed happy tears through our phone conversation (I was far too excited to be patient enough to tell him in a Pinterest-worthy way), and then I called my family and my best friends and cried happy tears with all of them on each separate phone call. It was one of the best days of my life, until Isla was born, and I’ve had so many “best days of my life” at this point that I can’t keep track.
Motherhood is a crazy time. It leaves you exhausted, elated, ecstatic, and easily confused about every decision you will ever make again from the moment you find out that another little person is using your body to grow into a drooling, giggling, crying, smiling, sweet little noise-making machine. While I had heard over and over again since I can’t even remember when how hard motherhood would be, I don’t know that I ever truly listened. I’ve always been the kind of person to care less about advice and more about my instincts to the point that I didn’t read one baby book while pregnant. Not one. And I haven’t read one since having Isla. The most information I got was from weekly baby updates that I received in my email, advice from trusted loved ones whom I sought out, and answers to questions I Googled when I needed to know something specific. While 75% of the information I received was incredibly helpful, what it didn’t prepare me for was the guilt I would feel about being a stay-at-home mom. A feeling I hadn’t expected at all.
With a husband in the military and the fact that I’ve never really found work that feels like my “calling” or makes my heart happy, I assumed staying home with our baby would come easily to me. What I never imagined was the guilt I would feel for not “contributing” or bringing cash to the table. I never guessed that I would feel awful for buying myself a sweater or Taylor Swift’s newest album on iTunes. Never once has Dom made me feel badly about buying anything (in fact, he hardly ever notices), nor have we ever been hurting or tight enough with money that we were being irresponsible by spending it on a little something for ourselves here and there, but it didn’t matter. The checks that come in aren’t necessarily in my name unless I do a little something on the side, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was a terrible wife/mom/person for not holding a job and getting ahead in an office somewhere while I expanded my set of marketing skills and was also a successful wife and mother. What I didn’t realize how much I actually was contributing and achieving by raising a sweet, funny, completely happy daughter and by dedicating my days to make sure she is fed, bathed, played with, and most importantly, loved.
This is the time where I sit back and appreciate my life as it is now. I am fortunate enough that I have a hard working husband who makes enough that we can live comfortably off one income. We may not have a ton of extra money outside of what we put in savings, but we do better than just getting by, and I get to be covered in baby hugs, kisses, and giggles for the 8-12 hours a day that he’s at work. Isla is one of the sweetest, happiest babies I’ve ever known, so clearly we are doing something right.
Next time I log onto Facebook, instead of envying or feeling jealousy over my friends’ lives or jobs, I will feel happiness over people I care about doing so well in life, and then I will snuggle up to my husband and kiss our sweet girl. Sometimes it’s so easy to forget how much gratitude I feel over getting to be Isla’s mom. Sometimes it’s so easy to forget how elated I am over this exhausting, exciting life.