Motherhood: The New Frontier

by Megan (memomuse) on October 15, 2012

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I kept detailed journal entries in graduate school for an independent study course on motherhood I designed while my son was a baby. It was called, Motherhood: The New Frontier.  I picked five books to read, and basically had free reign to write whatever I wanted to about motherhood.  Well, to say the least, these journal entries are raw, edgy, hopeful, honest, vulnerable, and loving (and about a dozen more adjectives).  These books on my reading list helped me realize I was not alone with my struggles.

My journal entries eventually turned into a book of my own. One of the themes of my motherhood memoir is the fact that I was practicing Attachment Parenting without even knowing it.  AP is flexible and you can adapt the 8 principles to fit your family’s needs.  People are up in arms about AP and the recent Time magazine cover.  I really don’t understand all the hoopla and outrage, but the Mommy Wars are a real thing. I’m a lover, not a fighter.

Motherhood is beautiful, ugly, difficult, easy, complicated, simple, textured, smooth, heart-breaking, heart-pounding, and one of the most complex relationships.

Mama and baby moose in Yellowstone, Wyoming

My road to motherhood was not easy; I struggled with infertility, postpartum OCD and intrusive thoughts, postpartum depression, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and anxiety.  As they say in the South, I was a hot mess.  The thing is, nobody really talks about how hard motherhood is.  In fact, it is a taboo subject.  I guess it is easier to talk about the joys and blissful moments instead of talking about nipple scabs, cracked nipples, sleep deprivation, and all the other dirty little secrets mothers live through.

My little miracle. Hard to believe something as wonderful as being a mom can be so downright terrifying at times. –  Photo by Sara Turner

I remember calling my friend, Debra Elramey in tears saying, “Debi, my boobs hurt.”  My milk had just come in.  I was not told it would feel like the lower falls of Yellowstone were dammed in my breasts.

Yellowstone Falls, Yellowstone, Wyoming

I was hunched over the passenger seat of our green Jeep  in the parking lot near the super strip mall and my husband was getting me a Subway sandwich.  I was trying to be strong, and the baby blues were coming on something fierce.  Ben was sleeping peacefully in the car seat, probably a week old.  Debi said, in a voice only a good friend can emulate, “Honey, you’re engorged,” she paused while I cried, then said, “You need to get a pump.”  I was like, “What is engorged?”

Debi explained the situation and what I needed to do. I got a free hand pump from the city’s lactation consultant that spent ten minutes with me the next day.  She said, “Yep, you got this, you’re doing it right,” as if I were some tick mark to check off on a list.  I wanted to call her out and say, “Lady, I think you are mistaken — I have no f-ing idea what I am doing! Please sit your a– back down on my couch and please don’t leave.”  Instead, I just kept a stiff upper lip until she left and then I cried.  My next call was to the La Leche League.

Breastfeeding was hard.  My nipples were scabbed, bloody and every time my son latched on, it felt like, well, I can’t remember what it felt like because I was so sleep deprived.  I did not prepare for this. In fact, I winged it.  I was not aware of attachment parenting and the first principle, Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting.  I guess I was like a deer in headlights while I was pregnant.  It never really sank in that I was going to be a mother until I was a mother.

I eventually got the hang of breastfeeding.  In fact, I am still nursing my two and half year old.   My support came from women in a nursing mothers’ group that the lactation specialist from the hospital organized. It was great to be around women who were struggling with the challenges of breastfeeding and motherhood.

My friend, Debra, also came over to my house and sat with me as I nursed my son.  I kept asking, “Am I doing it right?”  She responded, “You’re doing it, so therefore you are doing it right.”

It wasn’t until I allowed myself to follow my instincts and relax that I realized there is no manual to being a mother.  I just followed my heart.

I carry him in my heart. Photo by my wonderful husband.

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

By E. E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

My son and I in a recent photo

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Megan (memomuse) (18 Posts)

Megan Oteri is a wife, mama, and writer. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and son. She enjoys wide open spaces and wide open hearts. She writes about her experience as a new mom and AP parent at www.memomuse.wordpress.com. You can follow her on Twitter @memomuse1 and find her on Facebook under memomuse.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

sandra tyler October 15, 2012 at 9:31 am

You should submit this post to Blogher.com Nicely done.

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Debra October 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm

And now you’re an old pro ;-)
Hugs to Ben, that cutie.

♥ ♥ ♥

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