I have one child, Mason Allen, who is soon to be 2!
Mason is smart and kind. He also has this adorable mischievous side to him that I adore! He is great at doing puzzles and enjoys being read to. Being all boy, he also loves trucks, cars, planes and anything with a siren! While he is playful and loves rough housing, he is also very sensitive. It doesn't take much, just a firm tone of voice, for Mason to get upset about being "in trouble". He is a bit cautious in nature but somehow LOVES going down slides -- even the big ones that make mommy nervous!
Becoming a mother was a roller coaster for me! I'm not one to like change and finding out Mason was on his way had me so scared initially. I was enjoying my life the way it was and knew that a baby meant EVERYTHING was about to change.
Then I met him. Then I fell in love. And everything did change ... but unexpectedly to me, it changed in the most wonderful ways!
Not to say the newborn period wasn't tough. I was exhausted mentally and physically. I just wanted to do everything "right." At some point though between the diaper changes, the 2am feedings, the afternoons spent "attached," I realized that I was doing it! I was a mommy raising a little boy. And not only was he growing, he was thriving! It quickly became the joy of my life watching him grow and learn. My heart is so full of love for this little boy that now I can not imagine my life without his sweet smile.
What was once anxiety and uncertainty has blossomed into the most rewarding and fulfilling experience. I may not know everything about being a parent, but I know without a doubt that I will love my son and rejoice in the blessing he is to me until the day I die.
Shane and I found out we were expecting on 11/14/12. As usual, Shane was so excited and I was FREAKED OUT! We waited until Christmas time to tell our families and I'm pretty sure we gave them the best surprise. We already had ultrasound pictures and then had picture frames engraved for all of the grandparents. Grandma Margie let out a loud squeal when she opened hers and scared me half to death! It took Nonna and Papa a minute to process what this meant but when they got over the initial shock, they were enthralled! I'm pretty sure my mom carried around that picture frame for the next few days! It was so fun to have everyone so excited. It helped this anxious mommy be at ease and know that this sweet baby of mine would be loved by so many!
For some reason I had a feeling pretty early on, maybe around 12-13 weeks that Mason was a boy. I told Shane right before we opened our envelope in the Dominican Republic telling us his gender that I would be absolutely shocked if it said "girl". Prior to the pregnancy, I had always seen myself as a mom to little girls. As usual, God knew better! The bond between this little boy and his mommy is something that I can not put into words. So special!
I don't remember pregnancy being terrible. I was very tired those first few weeks and very big by the last few weeks! The rest is all a blur. I do clearly remember loving sitting on the couch watching and feeling little kicks from inside. It was amazing to know that my body could grow and support this precious little being.
Working with newborns myself and having been to many deliveries, it was a little surreal being the one actually having the baby! We were lucky enough to be surrounded by loving family and friends as well as my amazing work family. I had very little anxiety about the actual delivery as I knew that I was in the best hands. I enjoyed a Long's donut on my way to be induced as I knew it might be a while before I ate again!
Once I got to the hospital, induction started and those contractions started. Shortly there after, Shane decided he needed some lunch so he warmed himself up a bowl of clam chowder. And then walked into the room with his very pregnant, laboring wife. Up until that point, I had not been nauseated ... I still can't smell clam chowder and feel good about it!
The time passed like a dream during labor and delivery, thanks to a good epidural. I was so thankful for that as I pushed for over 3 hours! Then his sweet little 8 pound 10 ounce body emerged into the world. His dad was able to "catch him" and cut the cord.
I just remember looking at Mason in disbelief, not quite registering that he was MY baby! There is a picture from several minutes after he was born that will forever be ingrained in my mind. The look on my face is one of pride, exhaustion, love and pain all at the same time. It was a rush of emotions like I have never felt.
His family was so ready to meet him as they had been anxiously waiting Mason's arrival in the waiting room. There is another picture I love of Mason's dad heading to the waiting room and our family all jumping out of their chairs to hear the news! He were so loved by so many from day 1. The day of his birth will always be one of the most amazing days of my life and I am so thankful that God chose me to be Mason's mom.
We did not get home from the hospital until almost midnight on 7/24. We were so excited to bring our boy home but when we got here and had no idea what to do!
By day 2 of being home, I was ready for reinforcements! My parents were planing to come back up but I called both of my parents (crying!) asking them to come sooner. I was exhausted, frustrated with feedings and an emotional wreck! Based on those first few weeks, I'm pretty sure Shane was thinking we'd never do the baby things again!
We eventually found a pacifier that he liked and that helped. Around 6-8 weeks we were able to get on a good schedule and started sleeping through the night. We were so lucky to have such an easy baby! Through the initial exhaustion and mood swings, I do remember falling more in love with my bear cub every day.
Being a mom has made me much more patient and laid back. I have always liked things in a timely manner but having a little one in tow, I realize that things will get done when they get done. Mason won't be little for long so the priority is to enjoy him and to not rush through these precious days and years. Everything else can wait. He won't!
The best parts of being a mom are THE HUGS followed closely by the fulfillment that comes from watching him learn and grow. It is to be a witness to the most astounding transformation in all of creation -- the growth from infant, to child, to teenager and finally to adulthood. Knowing so much of who he will become in life depends on his early experiences. I am hoping that I can be a positive and encouraging presence throughout his life.
I find the most challenging thing about motherhood to be "mommy guilt." When I'm not with him, I feel that I'm missing out on what I should be doing. As a working mom, it is necessary that I am away at times. I keep telling myself that he is growing into an independent, social, active child and the time at school is important for him... But I just miss him so! I'm always wondering if I'm doing the right thing. Does he know he's loved even when I'm not there to tell him? I know it is not good to coddle him. He needs his space to be independent too. But I would go to the ends of the earth for him (as long as I could take him with me!).
I have found great support from other mommy friends. We all share many of the same feelings and concerns. Motherhood can be very isolating and only by reaching out to one another can we combat the loneliness we sometimes fee. Sometimes that means taking time for yourself (which can be of the most difficult things to do!) to spend time with friends and remember who YOU are in the world.
I am also blessed with an amazing husband who, through all of the challenges that parenthood brings, has stood firmly by my side. He has been my rock. He has always been content to let me be me. Shane is an awesome daddy and a true example of unconditional love. Without his constant faith and abiding love, I would be lost.
I think I was most surprised by how lonely motherhood can be, especially those first few weeks with a newborn. I thought it was not possible to be lonesome when always WITH someone but apparently a 3 week old was not the company I needed! I was use to working and being out and those first days and weeks home with a newborn, I felt very isolated. I was scared to take him anywhere, sure he would cry. And with nursing, I felt that I couldn't leave him for long.
Over the past year or so, this has gotten better for me. With him being older, we can actually do activities and go on play dates now! I find that being a mom has actually helped me to connect on a deeper level with my other mommy friends. Knowing we all struggle and face many of the same challenges make it not seem so lonely anymore!
He is growing up so darn fast! Learning new things every day! I love his charming personality that is becoming more obvious by the day but I miss the days of snuggling! I think he might too as he still insists on laying across my lap at bedtime just as he did as a baby. It is becoming more challenging now as his legs are either squished up between the chair arms or dangling off the side! I just hold his precious body and wonder at my beautiful boy. I know the day will probably come soon that he will be too big to hold this way, but for now I am cherishing every moment I get to hold him.
As Mason grows and becomes more independent, I fear the world's influence on his kind, sensitive spirit. This world can be a tough place. It can make people bitter, mean and greedy. My hope is that he always remembers who he is - a child of God called to love and to be loved. Even when things of this world are beckoning for his attention and focus, my hope is that he will keep his eyes on what is truly important. I know that much of this is beyond my control so these fears are things I must turn over and trust to God. He loves Mason too and knows him even more deeply that I do. In that, I take comfort!
To other moms, I would encourage you to find a support system! This mommy thing can be tough! There is nothing stronger or sweeter than a positive, encouraging group of women all caring for one another through the challenges that come with motherhood. There are experiences only other moms can understand. Open yourself up to each other, be vulnerable. We are all far from perfect and it is not our place to judge one another. We all want what is best for our children and are doing our best. Let's be kind and gentle to one another!
Mom's can absolutely change the world. In fact, I think it is the only way the world can change! We must teach and exemplify kindness and grace so that our children may see those qualities lived out. We must inspire their spirits and protect their hearts. It is only through raising thoughtful and gracious children that we can hope for something better!
A prayer I often say as I hold Mason in my arms as he is drifting off to sleep:
May his body be healthy and strong so that it may carry him through this life.
May his mind be thoughtful and wise so that he may determine the path that You would have him follow.
May his spirit be generous and kind so that Your love may shine through him.
May his heart be courageous and pure so that he may love with his whole heart.
And may he always know how much he is loved.
Being your mommy is by far the most rewarding thing I have done with my life. Previously, I felt that my calling was to be a doctor but that pales in comparison to the honor it is to be your mom. I love you with all of my heart and then some. You have brought me closer to my God, to your dad, and to myself. I know that I am who I am meant to be. You have inspired me to be my best self. I love you unconditionally and with a hope that exceeds my wildest expectations. You are so special and have so many things to offer this world. I am beyond proud to call you my son.
Love, Your humbled mommy
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Ashlee also provides magical and delightful services for: newborn photography, cake smash photography, baby's first year plans, maternity photography, family photography, and Newborn mentoring for photographers.
If you have a milestone or special moment you want to remember forever, let's chat! Ashlee loves to photograph in the woodlands and around downtown Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel, Zionsville, and Greenwood. She also has a professional studio space available for sessions.