As a first-time mom, I struggled to learn to trust myself. Not only was I suddenly forced to adjust to a super-demanding role that no amount of research or practice can really prepare anyone for, but I was also more terrified of failing than I’ve ever been in my life. What if I forgot that one random piece of advice my aunt's best friend mentioned to me? Or what if none of the tips I found on the internet were able to help me soothe my crying baby? With that kind of pressure, it makes sense that I’d doubt my judgment from time to time (or even a lot of the time). And then of course, just when I would get the hang of one phase of my baby's life, they'd move on to some new phase of development or stage of behavior that sent me straight back to square one.
Luckily, I was able to gradually learn to trust my instincts. My experience as a mom grew along with my kids, and little by little I was beginning to feel more certain that I knew my baby and I was more than capable of taking care of their needs. As moms, we should realize that even if we don’t feel like we know what we’re doing, we’re actually doing a great job — and that how well we do our jobs as moms doesn’t define us as women. To encourage you to trust your way as a mom and as a woman, we teamed up with Baby Dove to ask five moms about the moment they felt everything fall into place. Here's what they had to say:
"I had my son, Ozzy, naturally — not by choice. I had a condition during my pregnancy that would not allow for an epidural, so I labored with him for close to two days, and pushed for two hours straight. Thinking back on the delivery, I cannot believe I’m even alive. That is the moment I learned to trust myself. I’m a warrior and know that if I can do that, I can do anything. So yes, now I’m a mom. But I’m also a fighter."
"I'm a mother of two, and turning 30 was a huge shift for me. Just before my birthday, my youngest was about 7 months old, and since I'd been through this experience before I knew I wasn't experiencing all the happiness that motherhood could bring. After talking to a friend and fellow new mom, I realized it was because I wasn't taking care of myself. I started doing an at-home fitness program, since it was something I could do without the stress of leaving the house, and now I see that changing my eating habits and becoming active was a life-changing decision. I became a local titleholder, was featured on several fitness blogs, and invited to contribute to a blog myself. I became stronger, healthier and I was confident in who I was. No regrets about my 20s, when I focused on everyone else, but my 30s are all about me and understanding that you can't pour from an empty cup!"
"I graduated college and started a new job at an advertising agency while I was six months pregnant. I decided to start my career so close to my due date because not only was I embarking on my journey through motherhood, but I was also ready to begin my journey as a young woman with a career. I negotiated a higher starting salary, and longer maternity leave, and had to trust that I knew I was doing the right thing for myself and my son, regardless of how hard I had to work. I'm more than just a mother; I'm an advocate for millennial mothers with careers."
"The night my daughter came into the world — over three weeks early and via emergency C-section — the hospital asked me if I wanted her to stay in the room with me. Terrified, I reluctantly said OK, knowing that the nurses were just outside the door. That night, holed up in bed thanks to surgery, with this newborn in a little cart beside me, I managed to take care of her and give her everything she needed, entirely on my own. With a few basic instructions from the nurses before bedtime and a couple of check-ins throughout the night, I realized that somehow I just sort of knew what to do. I learned almost immediately that there wasn't and would never be a formula, no answers despite the millions of questions asked, no right or wrong."
"The moment I learned to trust myself as a mom and woman was when I received my MSW degree from Columbia. I decided to switch careers from law to psychotherapy after the birth of my daughter. Juggling schoolwork, being a wife and mom, and caring for myself was difficult, but I knew in my heart that I needed to fulfill my passion for helping others."
This post is sponsored by Baby Dove.