How I’m feeling
The day I gave birth is one of the happiest yet most traumatizing days I’ve experienced. I quickly learned that the US healthcare system is broken. My OBGYN had made me feel heard and understood during my appointments, but when it came to the day of giving birth, all my wishes were ignored or shunned upon. I felt fooled. I was dehumanized and treated like a paycheck. When I asked to touch my son’s head while crowning, my OB responded with, “Ew, that’s gross, he’s dirty.” When my OB wanted to perform an episiotomy, I asked if it was necessary, she responded with, “It will just speed up the process.” I declined over and over, but she went ahead with it anyway. I was horrified by how I was abused. My stepmother, a midwife, secretly watched the birth over FaceTime, tucked away on a table. She heard and saw it all. After the birth, enraged, she told me that most doctors perform unnecessary procedures because they get extra dollars in their pockets for everything they do and prescribe to their patients. So, after giving birth, I asked my OB why this was her profession, and she responded with, “I make really good money.” And there it was: my confirmation that, in her eyes, I was only a cheque. It made me feel sorry for myself and the many women I know she had taken advantage of over some coins.
My journey into motherhood was scary at first. I was afraid I would not be able to love or care for my baby to the extent I believed a mother should. I was also afraid that I would unconsciously harm my child, mentally or physically, because I often had excused my parents’ toxic and abusive behaviour with the idea that they were not in control or simply didn’t know any better, which I still believe. To combat that, I had to revisit my childhood and reflect on it and heal from it. Most of all, I had to learn from it…not to imitate the behaviour but to understand where my parents were coming from and do the opposite to my child. Although that was my biggest challenge, I have also found a lot of clarity and pure joy in this motherhood journey.
The easy part of this journey has been being nurturing. The very fear I had has been the easiest part for me, which was such a relief. The second I heard his little cry in the delivery room, I felt the surge of love, care, nurture, and motherhood! It took over my body, and I love how naturally being a nurturing mother came to me.
Advice to mothers
With my journey in mind, my advice would be to encourage mothers to trust their instincts when it comes to the nature of nurture within motherhood. Do not be afraid to speak up for yourself, your child, or your family. Regardless of the critics, judgment, or passive aggression, keep your head up and voice incredibly strong through it all. If any mommas have experienced trauma and are afraid it will reflect into their parenting, I encourage them to find healing and understanding to move into this new stage of life with nothing but light.
I am beyond grateful for the ability to even begin my breastfeeding journey and much more to be able to continue to this day. The beginning was uncomfortable from the chapped nipples, engorged breasts, and getting used to a little one suckling on you all day. I remember crying and being scared of putting my nipple near my son’s mouth. Every day I had to remind myself that my immediate comfort had little significance compared to my son’s health. I am so proud of myself for building the bond my son and I have and overcoming the pain, judgement, and the many other struggles that came with breastfeeding. Every day that milk flows into my baby’s mouth, I am grateful for being pure magic.
The best advice I can give to any mommas out there is persistence. It will be hard. There may be some pain and even a mental toll, but I promise it is possible to push through it. Believe in the nature of motherhood, trust your strength, and know that you are magic.
I don’t usually get much time for myself. Not because I can’t have it but because I genuinely love spending time with my little family. Regularly I make sure I have a self-care day where I practice my skincare routine, or I might take an extra-long bath and shave my legs. It’s very refreshing. And on occasion, my husband treats me to get my nails or lashes done, and that’s like giving candy to a baby for me.
Fave part of pregnancy
I need to be honest and say I was not a fan of pregnancy. I was grumpy, hungry, and in pain a lot of the time. However, my favourite experience had to have been feeling my son respond to my massages. I’d often massage my belly to make sure he was moving enough, and when he would respond with a kick here or an elbow there, I’d get so filled with joy. I loved knowing that I was growing him cell by cell in my womb, just another reminder of how incredible my body is. I also loved preparing for his arrival with my husband.
I feel like it only made our relationship stronger. We got to bond as partners a lot, figuring out how we wanted to parent, and I’m glad we had many of the same views.
My morning routine
My mornings are normally chill. My incredible husband lets me sleep in and takes care of our son as soon as he wakes. By the time I wake up, he has made breakfast, and I get to eat in bed. Soon after, I take my son, snuggle up, and breastfeed while my husband gets ready for work. Every day I drop him off at work around 10 am. When I get back home, I put my son down for a nap, and then I begin to prepare lunch for myself and the baby. Especially now that many baby foods we used to rely on have been outed for carrying heavy metals, I’ve been making our own purees, which we love more anyway.
I could not choose a single Mother Muse. Any mother who continues to challenge herself, question herself, and is constantly looking to be a better version of herself is my Mother Muse.
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Photographed by Carolina Isabel Salazar