Hello friends! Since this is a slower time of year for me, I decided to work on a personal project and I'm so excited to share this series with you. Moms have a dear place in my heart, and I wanted to work with some local mamas on this project.
I'm involved with a local group for moms, and one of their hashtags for this year is #thisismotherhood. I loved that line so much, and have been honored to be a part of a group of moms who embrace their differences, embrace each other, accept each other just as they are, and our group is really a non-judgmental place for moms to get together. I reached out in my group to see if anyone would be interested in sharing part of their motherhood journey, and I was blown away with the responses I got. I have been able to start meeting with the moms who I'll be working with, and I get to sit down with them for an hour, take some photos, and listen to them share. It's been so beautiful and such an honor for me.
Because I'm sharing parts of the stories of different women who have voluntarily sat down with me, I'd ask that you approach reading these posts with respect and an understanding that these stories are sacred. Please honor this space. The moms I'm interviewing all have a unique and different story of their journey to motherhood. No two will be alike, and that is so beautiful to me. Please honor these women and listen to their story free of judgement, assumptions, or negativity. We deal with enough of that already, right?
Please accept these stories as parts of the bigger picture of being a mother and being human, and recognize how rich that makes this world. Thank you for taking the time to read and listen.
With much love,
Hannah lives in Fishers with her husband Chris and her three sons, Wesley, Bailey, and Conley. She had home births with all of her boys, and stays at home with them. She is passionate about motherhood and birth, and enjoys reading, sewing, crocheting, and the outdoors. Her family recently moved to Indiana from Kentucky, and I connected with Hannah through the MOPS group we both attend.
I truly enjoyed sitting and listening to Hannah share her story. She has a quiet and kind way about her, and shared so honestly and authentically. I can tell she loves where she’s at in life, and she loves being a mom to her boys. Please enjoy part of her story below!!
Tell me a little bit about your journey to motherhood.
“My journey to motherhood was an easy one compared to most. We got pregnant with our oldest the first time, and have with our others as well. I feel like this was solely because of my awareness of my body. When we got married we knew we wanted to have kids, but also wanted to wait a bit. We were engaged very quickly and married a year and day from the day we met! (But we also talked about having kids on our third date, so you know!) Anyways, when we got married I didn’t want to be on birth control, but also wanted to be able to “plan” when we had kids. We wanted to spend time as a couple first. So, we read Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Both of us read it! It was important for us to be on the same page and a team when it came to our marriage and having kids. We were able to use what we learned from the book as natural birth control for our first 2.5 years of marriage. Then, when we started talking about having kids, it happened so seamlessly! A lot of people struggle with fertility (even some of our extended family) and tell us that we were so lucky. I feel like we have certainly been blessed, but I don’t feel like it’s all luck…we were super aware of my body and how it works and did our research. I am not typical when it comes to my cycle. It very easily could have been hard for us to conceive if I wasn’t aware of my body. I’m grateful to know how my cycle works. I’m always advocating for women to read this book and really understand what is actually going on first. But then again, I’m not one to jump to a medical approach in life!
My sister-in-law had home births so I had her as an example of what one side of birth is like, and my sister had hospital births and I was at her last birth, behind the camera, and she had a traumatic birth and there was a lot of blood. So when we were thinking about having our own kids, I was like ‘Ok, I have these two very different spectrums of birth, and what do I want my birth to look like?’ And so I guess, you know, we were just doing lots of research and asking lots of questions of ‘What do we want it to look like for us?’ and ‘How do we want to feel most comfortable?’
I guess I just always knew that I wanted to have kids. On our third date, I told Chris that if we were going to get married that I was going to stay home and raise our kids because I didn’t want to go to work. I always wanted to be a stay at home mom. Thankfully he was on board with that, and so from the beginning, we were thinking of all the things we wanted to do, and have the most natural approach to things."
What is one of the things you love most about being a mother?
“I don’t know what I love most. Could it be ‘What is my favorite part of the day with day with them?'
So it seems kind of strange, since my favorite time is bedtime. ‘Of course! The tired mom - favorite time is bedtime!’ But Bailey has this thing, where after we get all of our jammies on, he wants you to sit on the floor and he wants to push you over. He goes ‘I push you over! I push you over!’ And it’s such a big thing for him. So just being able to see their (my boys) excitement and love for each other and all of that I guess is my favorite thing about being a mom - when we all are together.”
What’s something that’s hard about being a mother sometimes?
“There’s never any ‘me’ time. Like 24 hours a day I’m on call. Someone’s touching me, someone, you know, needs me. It’s also something I really love about being a mom, is that I’m always able to be there for them. But the no sleep, and constantly nursing at night, and then you wake up and you’re still on call! There’s no sleep for the weary! We’re always going."
How do you maintain a sense of who you were before you had kids?
“So Chris and I talked a lot about this. I feel like you have a whole new identity when you’re a mom. So who I was is kind of, I feel like it’s really gone. I try and keep a few things, like I really like to sew and crochet, I like to read. So anytime I have time to myself, I try to do those things that are kind of that connection to who I was. But at the same time, I feel like you are such a different person that, I don’t know, I feel like people don’t tell you whenever you have kids that you’re not going to be that person anymore. You are a new person. You have a totally different identity, and that’s, for some people really hard. I think for me, I just kind of went with it. I was like ‘This is what I’ve always wanted to be.’ And so, I embraced it maybe? And just, yeah, went with it!”
What’s something that makes your motherhood story unique?
“So probably the fact that we had a home birth. Like I said earlier, we had two different birth approaches to see, and I was actually the one that was more afraid of the home birth. I think because, well for one Chris wasn’t going to be doing it, but he was like ‘We should totally have a home birth!’ and I was like ‘I just saw my sister bleed out on the table in the hospital - I don’t know if that’s a good idea!’ And after doing all of our soul-searching on that and deciding to have a home birth, after having Wesley, I cannot imagine not having a home birth. But just how, I guess unique and special that felt to us that we were one, able to do it, like to me it wasn’t an option to go to the hospital unless there was an emergency. Going to the hospital for pain wasn’t an option for me, because people ask me that all the time. ‘How did you do it? How did you not want to go to the hospital?’ and I’m like ‘It wasn’t an option for me. We were having this baby and I was not leaving this house.’ And so for us, I think that was something we did together, and we have this special bond because we were all in it together.”
What’s one of your biggest dreams that has yet to be realized?
“As far as our family, we would like to have another one. And our plan is to attempt to, you know, read the books and try for a girl, even though I am convinced that my body only makes boys, and there’s something going on with just the boys. But we’re going to try one more time for that.
Personally, I was a teacher before having kids, and I don’t really think that I want to go back that route. But through my passion for birth, I’ve always thought that it would be fun to be a doula, and to be able to help other people with their birth experience. I’m not sure at what stage of our life we will ever get to that, because right now we have lots of little children. And I can’t imagine being up all night with my own, and then going 24 hours with someone else and being able to give them what I need. But I think at some point, that’s what I would like to do with my career.”
What would you say to your younger pre-motherhood self now if you could?
“Well maybe, one, the warning that your life is going to be totally different. It will be beautiful but in a different way. And just that, for me personally, it’s everything that you wanted it to be and more, but also really hard. I mean, motherhood is hard. There are a lot of days that you’re tired and you want to pull your hair out, and somebody just keeps touching you and you can’t get away from it. And you’re like ‘leave me alone!’ But that’s part of the beauty.
I feel like we (me and Chris) are crazy because they’re all so close together, but that was our plan. ‘Ok don’t worry about what stage they’re in right now. If you want to have another one go on and do it so you can have them close, and one day it will be beautiful.’ But right now it’s crazy. You’re going to love it, but it’s going to be hard. I was nanny and I always had nieces and nephews and it was easy, right? But you’re not living it 24 hours a day. So you love it (motherhood) but it’s hard.”
In what ways has motherhood changed you?
“I feel like I’ve always been very passionate and very giving. I think I went through a phase in my life where I had to pull back and be like ‘no, you can’t always say yes to people because then you’re letting people walk all over you.’
As a mom, basically that’s what they do. You have lots of little people who walk all over you. So I don’t know that that has changed me in a good way. I don’t know. Your life is very different as a mom and those are changes that come naturally. They come quickly but over time as well. Like, overnight you’re a mom, and everything changes but maybe you don’t notice it as quickly as it happens. Then all of the sudden you’re like ‘I don’t know who I used to be.’ But maybe that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m so happy now and I can’t even imagine what I really did with my time. I know I worked. Life was much simpler in so many ways, but I’m so happy now.”
What is something that you wish all mothers would truly take to heart?
“I feel like, with social media, so many moms are judging each other, or they’re comparing themselves. I feel like I really try and be like ‘Look, we’re all ourselves and we all have our own unique things we bring to the table.’ Something that drives me crazy may not drive you crazy at all, and you have this together and I have this together. Just the comparison. I wish that people could see their own families and be happy with that and not be so quick to want to be like somebody else. And I know that there are certainly times that I have probably done the same thing, but I feel like overall I try and not care what people think about me. We make the best decision for our family and what works for us, and I wish more people would do that. Just go with what works for your family and not worry about what the greater society thinks about it.”
What is one thing you expected to be true about motherhood but turned out to be different?
“Having them so close together, I envisioned them to be built-in playmates. And I’m sure at some point that will happen, but right now it’s a lot of fighting and arguing and hitting and somebody screaming and ‘somebody’s taking my toy!’ and ‘someone licked my plate!’
Having them so close together at some point will probably be wonderful, and I want them to have that closeness, because my sisters and I are 5 years apart, each of us, and so we were kind of like only children. I didn’t want that for my kids. I wanted them to be close and I wanted them to grow up with each other and love each other. And they do, they love each other. But they fight. A lot. And scream. And they’re mad at each other a lot. So I guess I kind of expected that to be different, and I think it will come in time.”
What’s something about motherhood you wish everyone would be honest about but maybe not many people talk about?
“I think going with your gut with your family and making those decisions for your family based on what’s best for you. With your kids, you’re the one that knows your kid the best, and so going with your gut on any decision you make and going with what you think is right for your family.”
What is the best piece of advice you’ve gotten about being a mother?
“When we first had Wesley, someone told me just to sit on the couch and to nurse him, and I did. And there were many days Chris came home from work and would be like ‘You’re in the same spot, did you do anything all day?’ and I’m like ‘No, he needed to nurse. So I sat here and I nursed him, and that is all I did all day long.’ But for Wesley that’s what he needed, and I was able to give that him because he was the first. Now that advice doesn’t work as much.
My sister-in-law always said follow the lead of your child. They’re telling you what they need, and so follow what they need. So that’s why I get up 7 times at night to nurse. He says he’s hungry and he needs mommy, so that’s what I’m doing right now. And at some point maybe we won’t get up 7 times at night, but that’s what he needs. I don’t know, we are a routine type of family and we work well on routines, but I don’t like to schedule my babies for food and sleep. And I just like to follow what they need, and I feel like that was helpful advice for a new mom.”
What is your favorite way to wind down after a long day with your kids?
“We like to put everyone to bed at 7 o’ clock. They get up really early at like 5:40, and no one naps except the baby. So we get everybody to bed and then we typically get in our bed and just watch tv, usually trashy stupid tv because I’m like ‘I can’t watch anything that has a point because my brain is fried. Let’s just watch something really stupid.’ And, usually we try to only make it on the weekends, but a glass of wine. But there are some days where I’m like ‘You know what, it might be wine Wednesday because I need wine today. Because Mommy is tired of craziness.’ So a glass of wine and stupid tv in bed. We go to bed at like 9:30, so we’re not really awake that long. We watch an episode of something and then go ‘I think I’m ready to go to sleep because I’m going to be up in ten minutes. It’s going to be great.’”
Tell me one thing you love about yourself as a mother?
“I feel like I’m very passionate and I have a lot of compassion. I feel like, for the most part, I’m not quick to anger. I try and work through things many, many times with them just trying to take the moment and really help them learn from it, and not yell and send them to their room. Although that happens too some days. But just trying to really, maybe the better word is have empathy, and just kind of get in their shoes and try and see things from their perspective and take that step back. And be the all-giving mother - to step back and not yell.”
Tell me one thing that scares you about being a mother?
“I think not being able to make those choices as a family that we think are best for our kids. So someone coming in and saying ‘Nope, you can’t make that choice anymore, we’re going to take that right away from you.’”
What would you do if you had a whole day to yourself?
“This was actually was kind of hard! I was like, ‘I don’t know. I don’t what that’s like.’ It’s been so long to have time just to myself. My family has a lake house in Kentucky with kayaks and hammocks. If I had a day to myself I would probably just go sit in the hammock all day long with a book and just read and sleep and listen to nature. I love to be outside. It’s kind of hard with them because, you know, they are running into the water and they’re doing things that are crazy. So if I had the time to myself just to go back there. I always say that’s my happy place. Mommy needs to go and Mommy needs to just have some time. So that would probably be my place.”
Who has been your biggest inspiration/mentor/go-to someone as you have journeyed through motherhood?
“So when we had Wesley there was this place called Babyology in Louisville and they had what was called a 4th trimester group. So if you had a baby newborn through 3 months, you could come and just have community. Chris called it my mommy support group - he was like ‘Everybody needs mommy AA.’ Because you don’t know and you’re new to all of this! And so some people brought questions that I hadn’t dealt with, but then two weeks later the same thing was happening to me and I knew what to do because of this group. And so there was a leader of this empowered birth class we went to, and she also moderated the 4th trimester group, and I felt like she was my go-to person. But then also all of the moms that I met through the group since we all brought a different experience and you could look to each mom for different things. I feel like there needs to be more of that.”
What are ways that you find time for yourself?
“So we’re members of the YMCA and we pretty much frequent there every day for the full two hours. I drop them off and say peace out, and I usually go work out for an hour. And for the second hour I either sit and read or crochet. I made all of my Christmas presents while sitting at the gym while they were in childcare. It took like weeks to do each project and started in August and finally finished like the day before Christmas. But I feel like I can physically work out and then mentally can do something. So that’s my sanity. If I don’t get that, when Conley’s asleep, I put the other two in their room and I shut my door and am like ‘Don’t come in. Mommy needs like 10 minutes.’ So on days that we don’t get to go to the gym, I definitely feel like I lock myself in my room for a few minutes. ‘I will be right back. You will read 10 books. You each get 10 books and I will be right back.’ For the most part, 10 books they can handle. Much longer than that Bailey doesn’t do so well. Wesley can sit in there and read books for days. But Bailey’s like ‘Ok I’m done! Where are you mommy!’
But the Y. It is our savior. Every day.”
How would you describe #thisismotherhood in your own words?
“The sleepless nights, always being touched. You wake up in the morning and you don’t take your jammies off until halfway through the day. You’re not sure the last time you had a shower or brushed your teeth. I feel like that is our #thisismotherhood, but like I said earlier, I feel like I made the choice that I wanted this to be our #thisismotherhood. I could have made the choice to go to work, but I wanted to be here in the tough of it and be crazy. Even the days that are like ‘Oh my gosh, I want to pull my hair out’ I’m still thankful that’s the decision we made, for me to be home in the thick of it. But it’s hard and it’s crazy, and it’s full of boogers and nasty stuff, right?”
What makes motherhood beautiful to you?
“I think it’s those moments, like I was saying, where we get on the floor and they want to push you over. Even when you’re mad at them and they come to you and they just want to hold you and give you a hug. It’s probably their innocence. They love you unconditionally no matter what. You are their person. And while sometimes it’s crazy, especially when you’re nursing, you’re like ‘I am your only person.’ But it’s beautiful at the same time because you are their person and hopefully as they grow up you’ll still be their person. The beauty and their innocence and how much they love. They teach you how to love.”
Thank you so much to Hannah for being willing to share! What an honor to hear her talk about her story and her journey of motherhood.
Stay tuned for more posts in this series.