Let go of expectations
Sounds like a title to a self-help book, amirite? I never would have thought that this simple, somewhat overused mantra, would be my driving force throughout my second labor, and ultimately be my guiding light over the next intense 6 weeks that followed. Let me elaborate…
Here were my expectations:
Second pregnancy, walk in the park. Conceive on attempt #1 just as with our first, no complications. It would be easier on my body having done this before. Labor would be faster because, well, everyone said so. We would deliver in a hospital because that’s what everyone does and I’m not the “type” to deliver at home. I would fall instantly in love with our new baby just as I had our first and graciously ease into motherhood again. The surprise gender on d-day would be just as fun the second time around. I remembered these sweet memories of my 6month maternity leave with my first born, where the days were filled with baby snuggles and skin-to-skin, I couldn’t wait to relive those glory days. And since newborns just sleep all the time, I would have so much more time to play with our oldest, who would have no trouble finding toys and games to occupy his time so I could calmly nurse his little sibling. Our mornings would be filled with peace and love and unicorns, and our afternoons would be spent jogging around town in our new double jogging stroller so mommy could train for her half marathon. There would be no postpartum depression, my heart would be so filled with love because a family of 4 is all we ever wanted! And all the Instagram moments, to show off the American dream, our new daughter and her proud big bro in their matching perfect sibling outfits #TrappPartyof4
Our second pregnancy resulted in a “missed miscarriage” and a D and C after 10 long weeks of being pregnant with an “invalid pregnancy” which caused my milk supply to tank while I was still breastfeeding our 9 month old son. Mending over the wreckage and before my body had even rebounded to a normal period, surprise! Baby #3. High risk pregnancy (post-miscarriage, spotting through second trimester and a partial previa that did not resolve until 30 weeks after pelvic rest, aka NO SEX!). My extreme desire to not want to disrupt our oldest son’s routine and wanting him to meet his sibling in the comfort of his own home is what drove us to move forward with a homebirth. I never expected this experience to be so amazing and surreal, but man did it feel more intense and longer than my first labor. The result was a big nearly 9 pound, 2 week early, baby BOY! In the moment we brought our second son into the world, my dreams were crushed and it took me weeks to come to terms with reality. I resented this baby. Maybe it was the hormones at play or the dairy allergy that kept him screaming all night for weeks? But I was bitter when I should have felt nothing but joy…then feeling guilty for not feeling happy all the time for this new life! I was, frankly, a monster and therefore my baby was unhappy, my toddler was miserable, and my husband wanted nothing to do with me…oh my poor husband, couldn’t wait to go back to work to escape the chaos and tantrums and tears. The following 6 weeks when I was alone with both boys, I lived in fear – fear of the next time they would both need me at the exact same moment and I had to Sophie’s choice who I would console first and let the other suffer. The only jogging I did was to the bathroom the minute my husband set foot in the house so I could shamefully drink a beer while crying for the 10000 time today.
So looking back on it all now, it’s a wonder I survived. I honestly don’t know how anyone survives this? For me, it was this simple advice given by our midwife during the labor of our second child that resonated with me so hard I decided to write a blog post about it. During my labor, after a couple hours of contractions with no progress when I expected this baby to fly out as soon as my water broke, our midwife, Michelle Doyle, told me to “Let go of those expectations, stop watching the clock and just take each contraction one at a time.” Seems so trivial and simple right? But trivial and simple as it may be, and as cliché as this may sound, these words changed my outlook on motherhood.
“Let go of expectations”: It’s normal right? To have these set expectations of how our lives would turn out, so it doesn’t seem possible or natural to just let them all go fly out the window. But this parenting thing is so unpredictable, how can we expect anything out of it other than survival? For me, it wasn’t until I started embracing the unpredictability that I was able to find happiness in this chaos. Holland made me such a gracious mother but man am I thankful for Maddox giving me grit. Yesterday all 3 of us left the house in our pajamas, something I shammed other moms for doing, but here I am avoiding tantrums at all costs and being humbled by our less than ideal morning “routine.”
“Stop watching the clock”: Like any SAHM, I find myself counting down the minutes until my husband is home from work. Wishing the day away until I get some reprieve. But now I’ve wished away the newborn phase of my last baby and I am feeling so insanely guilty that it was filled with chaos and yelling and I will never get those moments to do over ever again!
“Take each contraction at a time”: Each day to me is like a cycle of contractions, there are some rough moments throughout the day followed by moments of rest. When Holland is licking yogurt off the floor followed by climbing up the fridge all while I am trying to just nurse Maddox for 2 seconds just so he will stop screaming bloody hell, I pretend it’s a contraction and just like a contraction it will be over soon, they will nap and I will get to recover, just in time for another. This is truly how I have to get through each moment of the day, knowing that I will get my time to myself but I won’t get back these moments with these boys.
I’ve lived this #momlife for 2 years trying to be that perfect mother, packing the most organic snap worthy lunches, fretting over the perfect Insta story to post of my sons #ootd and making sure that my sons playdates were packed full of Montessori activities, all before a hard stop at 7pm for bed. But when my second came along, there’s just no time for all of that and it’s just about survival, which made me realize what’s really important. Not what I expected of myself as a mom of two, not what others expected of me either but how I interacted with my sons in each fleeting moment, shaping their lives…not what I thought our life would be but instead just living it!
So I guess my hope in writing this, my most raw emotions, is that it will resonate with anyone…maybe a first time mom who’s beating herself up for not getting to the laundry this week, or a second time mom who’s feeling guilty for leaving her second child on the playmat too long today, or maybe a mom to be who’s secretly shaming other moms for letting their kids leave the house in pajamas…whoever it resonates with I hope the message is loud and clear: let’s all let go of expectations in this crazy parenting world. Of ourselves. Of our husbands. Of our impressionable children. Of other mothers. How can we expect anything more from being a parent than just to simply raise kind humans and survive? And that’s all I can expect of myself on any given day. I am a SAHM, helicopter parent that lets my toddler watch Netflix for pooping on the potty, co- sleeps, breastfeeds, swears, yells and gets by with frozen dinners. Not at all what I expected. But I’m surviving!
Disclaimer: Shout out to all the mamas out there I ever placed judgement on, I am deeply sorry. I get it now. You rock. You’re a bad-ass mama just getting shit done and doing what’s best for your tribe. Whole new respect for all mamas – including mine. Sorry I was a jerk.
Sable B. Trappenburg is a Delmar SAHM of two boys under two who used to enjoy being a marketing executive, creating dope powerpoints, doing calligraphy and creating wedding invitations but now fills her time with making creative toddler lunches, writing helpful mom blogs, doing family yoga and raising two kind humans.