JESSICA :: MOTHERHOOD

mom and sons read books and play and indianapolis studio photography session Describe how it felt the first time you held your children in your arms: Aidan was born 5 weeks early. Thankfully, he was tiny but completely healthy. I was shocked and confused. We laughed and cried when the nurses told me push because I still couldn't believe he was being born right then - we didn't have a crib yet. Didn't have a name decided. I just keep thinking "I'm not ready! He's not ready!" And then there he was - my tiny little pink baby.

Xavier's birth was more expected. He was born by c-section because he was breech. When he was first born I couldn't hold him because (I was in-surgery) and I had to wait for my blood pressure to stabilize. I remember my first sight of him, purple-y and full of goo, but still adorable.

How has being a mom changed you as a person? It sounds trite - but everything has changed. I feel like the social message were give mom is that we 'say' things are going to change, but we mean 'don't change, you need to keep up everything as if you're not a mom.' It's difficult to explain. It's sort of like when we ask someone how they are doing, but we don't REALLY want to know how that are doing.

What’s the best part about being a mom? The snuggles that only Mom can give.

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What’s the most challenging thing? The most challenging aspect of motherhood has been learning how to be myself, while also becoming a totally new person. I'm not the same as I was 7 years ago, even I look outwardly the same. Along those same lines, I dealt with (am dealing with) postpartum depression and anxiety. (see next answer)

What has taken you by surprise about motherhood? What do you wish someone would have filled you in on beforehand? While there are many wonderful things about motherhood and little happy moments that have been surprising and full of joy, I want to take some time to talk about postpartum depression and anxiety. It turns out that I was suffering from both of these illnesses after becoming mother. It began with anxiety which then spread into depression. The hardest part was that I went untreated for my first year of motherhood. Sadly, this is the one thing that really stands out to me in my memories of early motherhood. The anxiety and depression going on in my head, behind the smile on my face. It's hard to describe my symptoms and go into great detail here, but it manifested itself in ways that I was not expecting. Also, while I now can describe symptoms I had early on, I had no idea what was going on, neither did my husband or other family. When Aidan was 1 year old a good friend, who had moved away, became concerned and addressed it with me that I just wasn't myself. My advice is to stay close with friends and family who are new moms and be supportive. Often someone will describe depression as 'something not being right.' And it's frustrating to be so vague but that is exactly what helped encourage me to find help. When Xavier was a baby I was on alert for the increased anxiety and depression and found a support group through the hospital. I highly encourage looking for a Perinatal Mood Disorders specialist. Meeting with other mom's with the same challenges learning what's 'normal,' and how to take better care of myself was extremely helpful.

What do you most wish you could hold onto forever about your kids being little? I have a love-hate relationship with weekends at home as a family. I love the time together and I don't want to rush it away, but goodness, can I use the bathroom by myself please?!

What do you hope your children grow up to become? What type of humans are you trying to raise? My boys talk about growing up to be Daddies who take care of their homes and families, just like their work-from-home Dad. I hope they grow up to become loving men, who can take care of the world around them. Specifics aren't required.

What are your child-rearing philosophies? Philosophies make it sound like we'd made official declarations of how we will do things. I'm learning to never say never. Also, positive encouragement works so much better than negative reinforcement.

If you could give a word of advice or encouragement to other moms, what would it be? You will not be perfect. You may nurse, you may not. You may be emotional, you may not. You need to be kind to yourself and remember to do things that you like to do. Keep close girlfriends close, watch out for each other and tell each other that they're doing a good job. Smile at other parents with screaming toddlers.

Funny story you love to tell about you kids and will never stop telling, even when they’re old and it embarrasses them: Aidan did not sleep through the night consistantly until he was over 3 years old. Sleep deprivation is the absolute worst. worst. worst.

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ASHLEE LAUREN PHOTOGRAPHY provides both studio and outdoor, natural light photography in Indianapolis, Indiana. The studio in located in downtown Indy near the canal and IUPUI. Family photography, as well as newborn sessions, maternity pictures are provided.