Mom of Fame – Krystal: Surviving a Car Accident & Thriving as a New Mom

Krystal is another amazing mom we are excited to introduce you to. She went from surviving a very serious car accident to thriving as a new mom to a beautiful 5 month old baby girl. She talks about how her accident changed her outlook on life, what it’s like to have your baby in the NICU, and how working with children for over 14 years helped (and sometimes hindered) her role as a mom. Please help us welcome her into the Mom of Fame!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

I am a stay at home mom, and my boyfriend Curtis owns his own IT business. We have a 5 month old baby girl named Aria and a Yorkie toy poodle named Charlee. I was in a horrible auto accident last March which resulted in a lot of injuries to my pelvis and ribs, a shattered femur, TBI (traumatic brain injury), and a broken arm. So right around the time I was healing we unexpectedly found out I was pregnant (after being careful). [I was] on many medications still from the pain of the accident and had an upcoming surgery; I was terrified. But fast forward a year later and I still have an upcoming surgery, but we are learning to be parents regardless of my injuries, and I have learned that momming isn’t for the weak! Lol!

What is the best piece of advice you were given about motherhood? Did you take it? Would you give that piece of advice to someone else?

The best advice was in the beginning to give myself some grace. I had an awful pregnancy surrounded with all day sickness for the whole 9 months (I only gained 12 lbs)! Everyone was saying to enjoy being pregnant, but I couldn’t; I was in bed all last year [between being] pregnant and still healing from my accident. My birth went about as smoothly as it could go. I did hypo-birthing, had a doula and a midwife.  I also got chiropractic adjustments twice that week which I think all that combined helped, but overall God cut me a break on her birth after 41 weeks of being bed bound and not being able to eat chicken, smell food and living mainly on broth, toast and cheez-its for that whole time. 

I was exhausted during pregnancy and people’s advice was to sleep, and boy did I ever! So my biggest advice to any new mom would be sleep as much as you can, go on a baby moon with your spouse, have meals prepped for about the first 2 weeks, give yourself some grace in the beginning and ask and plan for help for at least 2 weeks (hire someone, your mom, sisters, aunts whatever you got to do). You’re gonna wanna shower, sleep and eat in peace and have a moment to yourself and they can help!

How is motherhood different than you imagined it would be?

Honestly it’s a wild thought. After a horrible pregnancy, but a great birth I was given this beautiful human. And on no sleep, I was expected to know how to nurse, and/or learn ( learning anything on no sleep is real fun) and know her every need because I am her mom. It was very overwhelming for me. And on day 2 my baby girl was whisked off to the NICU for monitoring because of the medication I was on when pregnant (that I couldn’t stop taking or it risked miscarriage).

The NICU is a whole new beast. Even though she was the biggest and one of the healthiest ones in there, my heart broke leaving her and seeing all of those innocent babies in there. Leaving your new baby and going home without her is a pain I can’t describe; it was really hard. So ultimately she was home after 72 hours and bringing her home was terrifying. People just expect because you gave birth you know how to care for this little person.

It’s a huge adjustment period, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of my mom and Curtis. I was always so jealous of moms, and I thought I would know right away. But the sleep is the hardest one for me. Being expected to heal yourself, sleep when the baby sleeps, (which is awful advice and makes you feel like a living cow whose job is to feed and be a robot for your babies needs ONLY).

What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?

Honestly I am not sure, I just try to take everything day to day. After my accident I really learned tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. So I would say I have a strength in wanting my daughter to experience life; every aspect of it. And to not be afraid but be prepared, smart and fearless. 

Describe a time when you were completely overwhelmed as a mother.

A time? It’s not supposed to be all the time? Lol.

Is there anything you feel that you have lost about yourself since becoming a mother? What have you gained?

I feel like when you become a mother, the old you dies in a way and a new you is born. The struggle begins when you’re trying to learn your baby, your new life, routine, relationship with your partner, and just survive. All while you’re fragile emotionally and physically and all of the same expectations stand as before–such as the home, work, friendships, life. How do you get to know your new self when your baby comes first?

I think I struggled for a while with the old me and new me. Every small task is harder once you’re a mom. The newborn days feel like never ending and it’s overwhelming getting adjusted. But the light at the end of the tunnel is that beautiful baby who thinks you’re the world. She is my miracle baby, and God gave me her for a reason and had me live that awful day, I know now, for her. And that’s all in the world worth gaining.

What do you want your child to learn from you?

I want her to be able to be strong, hardworking and know that life doesn’t give handouts and anything will and can happen. So always be ready for a curve ball but be able to land back on your feet. 

You were a nanny and a teacher for a long time before you became a mother. How do you think that changed your approach to motherhood? How would your approach to teaching or nannying change now that you’re a mother?

I totally thought that working with children for 14+ years I would be equipped in every way for motherhood. When, in fact, it made things harder. I had so much experience that I had unrealistic expectations for myself and my child. I knew what she should be doing, what I was “supposed” to be doing and I was harder on myself when things didn’t go as desired. Every child is different. And I had to remember I was taking care of those kids on a full night’s sleep, and I could check out and leave.

However it also, I believe, made things easier then if I didn’t have that experience. I knew what I needed before she was born, and it wasn’t wipe warmers, and frilly clothes it was jammies, Binky’s and baby wearing. It helped me be realistic. I know she’s gonna throw tantrums, not sleep, and get sick eventually. I knew what teething would be like, and I was calm about all of the normal things children go through because I had dealt with it before with other people’s kids.

My biggest advice is to have help ready, and don’t be afraid to ask for it, you are only human. Also, sleep when you can, love your kids, love your relationship and get away for a break when you can for your sanity. Because your sanity makes you an amazing mom. Don’t judge any other moms; we all are just trying to survive and love our kids and learn our new selves while doing it. 

Mom of Fame – Jamie : A New Mom’s Take on Returning to Work

We are so grateful every day to all of the moms who are willing to share their stories with us. Next up is Jamie! She is an amazing mom to a 6 month old boy (and 2 adorable dogs!). She talks about not being a people-pleaser (anymore), how pregnancy was pretty terrifying, and the ups and downs of being a working mom. Please help us welcome Jamie into our Mom of Fame, she definitely deserves it!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

My name is Jamie, and I’m a new mom to my son, Max, who is 6 months old! I live in Oakland Township with my husband, Chad. I’m also a pharmacist and dog mom to two sweet goldendoodles, Maddie and Chloe. 

What is the best piece of advice you were given about motherhood? Did you take it? Would you give that piece of advice to someone else?

“Do what’s right for your family, not what others think you should do.”

I am a people pleaser so this can be difficult for me. Sometimes the best decisions for our family may not make others happy, and I need to accept that.

Also, what is best for another child or family may not be what is best for my own. It is easy to get caught up in comparing which isn’t healthy or productive.

How is motherhood different than you imagined it would be?

People are quick to tell you the negatives of parenthood, and I think I had a skewed view of what our new lives would look like due to this. When pregnant, I constantly had people telling me to sleep while I still could and to enjoy my freedom while it lasted. Since Max was born, I still sleep (though some nights not as much as I would like!) and don’t feel like I have lost all my freedom. Any challenges pale in comparison to the overwhelming amount of love and joy our son has brought us. It has been a much more natural, joyous transformation to motherhood than I imagined.

What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?

Patience, empathy, and love.

Describe a time when you were completely overwhelmed as a mother.

Pregnancy was overwhelming and at times, completely terrifying, for me. Our journey to have a baby was difficult. As my pregnancy with Max progressed, I felt more secure but can’t say I ever relaxed until he was born healthy. We are blessed in that Max is generally a very calm, happy baby without any health issues thus far. I can’t say I’ve been too overwhelmed since his birth (at least so far!).

Is there anything you feel that you have lost about yourself since becoming a mother? What have you gained?

It is harder to find time for myself, such as working out or getting pedicures. I feel guilty not spending time with my son when I’m not working, and I also try to clean and do laundry when he’s sleeping. I have gained the most precious baby boy, and the love and joy he has brought to my life is indescribable.

What do you want your child to learn from you?

I hope Max learns kindness and love. I pray he grows up to be a kind, emotionally aware, humble adult who helps make the world a better place. 

How has your transition to being a working mom been? What has been the hardest part? What advice would you give to other moms going back to work after having a baby?

The transition of returning to work has been the most challenging part of motherhood so far. Thankfully, I have a career I love which helps tremendously. The hardest part of working has, of course, been leaving my son. I rarely left my son during my 14 weeks on maternity leave. My husband encouraged me to get out of the house when he was home from work, because it can be isolating to be home all day by yourself with a newborn. Besides those short trips, though, I never left Max. The thought of leaving him with anyone else caused me (and honestly still causes me) so much anxiety. 

The weeks leading up to my return to work were difficult. I struggle with relinquishing control, so the thought of being away from him and me not being there to comfort him when he cried was gut wrenching. My husband took a week and a half off with him before he started daycare, which helped ease the transition. I still felt emotionally and physically drained from being away from him. The first day of daycare was a hard day – I burst into tears as soon as I walked into the building. Thankfully his teachers all were very understanding and made things easier by sending smiling pictures. 

Besides the difficult transition those early days and missing Max, returning to work has had positives for all of us. Staying home with a baby can be lonely (especially a winter baby), and I felt more like myself once I got into a routine and returned to work. I make sure to make the most of time with him when I’m home and on my days off. My husband cares for Max by himself some nights and every other weekend while I’m working. I tend to take over when I’m home, so having this one on one bonding time has been great for the two of them. I have seen an increase in my husband’s confidence when it comes to parenting, and Max lights up whenever he is around my husband. It has also been healthy for our relationship to fairly equally share in both caring for Max and having careers. 

People are quick to judge how you choose to raise your child. I have gotten judgement, questions (even from total strangers), and opinions on if I “have to” work full time and especially about using daycare. I don’t know that I will always work full time, but it is the right decision for our family now. We chose to use daycare to give our family consistency, reliability, social interaction for Max, and learning opportunities. This decision was not well received by all our family, and everyone seems to have an opinion. I remember someone telling me prior to even being pregnant with Max that my priorities would change once I had a baby and that I would have to quit my job. My priorities have never changed – I desperately wanted to have a child. Max has been and always will be my top priority, regardless of whether or not I work. I’ve been thrilled to see him thrive at daycare the 3-4 days a week he is there.

We are all doing what we think is best for our families and children, and I wish people weren’t so quick to judge. We can all be the perfect moms for our babies whether we work part or full time, stay at home, use grandparents for childcare, have a nanny, or use daycare! 

My advice for a mom returning to work after having a baby is to give yourself grace. I am sure I looked quite disheveled those early weeks after returning to work as I was trying to figure out how to balance everything and get a morning routine down. I was completely exhausted (and still am some days) from working full time, pumping milk, caring for Max, cleaning bottles and pump parts at night, trying to clean and do laundry, and often waking up multiple times each night with Max. Everything gets easier with time and an adjustment period. Always keep in mind that you can be an amazing mom whether you work full time or stay home!