We love how willing moms are to opening up their hearts (and lives) to other moms. Honestly, there is no greater tribe then that of motherhood.
Maureen is mom to three. Two adorable little boys and one girl who was born silent. She writes with such open honesty that we were just hanging on every word. She talks about ‘maiden self’ (which we didn’t know anything about) and how each one of her births were so different.
She is the type of mom that you would want to go for any kind of advice and she’s the type of PERSON that would be willing to sit down with you and help. She deserves the title of Mom of Fame. Please welcome her and read her story below.
Tell us about yourself and family!
About me, I recently figured out that the common thread of my interests, passions, work experiences, conversations with others, and observations of communities/individuals has always related to well-being. Which MOMFAMING is a great example of supporting the well-being of mommas through connecting, supporting, and seeing mommas!
My husband, Michael, and I are journeying through almost 11 years of marriage. Marriage is such a journey! Am I right mommas?! He is the kindest man I know and I am grateful to walk with him through the mountains, flatlands, and valleys life throws all humans. I don’t always love those valleys but I am recently embracing them differently and trusting they pass. I am growing a new appreciation for them because they bring such gratitude to feelings of joy and the experience of being alive! I am so glad to do life with him.
We have two boys. Lars who is 5 years old and Lennox who is 5 months old! We also had a daughter (Hadley) who died, stillborn at 9 months of pregnancy. She was our first born and it was a healthy pregnancy. After an autopsy and genetic testing we never were able to figure out what happened.
Lars, our five year old is fun, independent-minded, joyful, and sweet. Lennox, our five month old is such a smiley and happy guy. His entire body smiles when he smiles and we are just soaking it all in. I keep saying I feel like a Grandma. Since there is a decent space between their ages (five years) I think I appreciate the moments so differently.
We have moved around quite a bit since having our children. We have lived in Kansas, Michigan, and California. We recently moved back to Michigan from San Diego, CA! We are both from Michigan so are loving being with family.
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?
At a very deep level you know what to do, what you need, and what they need. The important work is to eliminate the noise from society of what it should look like and be aware of how our own ego/past experiences impact us. As that noise quiets down, that deeper knowing emerges and you can tune into that and work from that space. I didn’t receive this advice until our third but I fully embraced the advice and guidance. I would totally give that piece of advice to someone else.
How is motherhood different than you imagined it would be?
It demands more than I thought. I didn’t think about all your body really goes through to create, carry, birth, then nourish a baby. That is a lot and it demands the time and space for all of that to happen. It really does require you to care for yourself at a different level than I thought so you can show up for yourself, your partner, and the kiddos.
What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?
I care deeply about my boys growing up with an emotional vocabulary and learning how to be comfortable in ALL of their emotions. I am still learning for myself how to do that but care about them building those muscles to navigate that process.
I smile a lot at them, find joy in little things, and love them deeply.
I am putting myself first, husband second, and them third. They need a momma that loves all of herself, loves their daddy, and loves the heck out of them. Also, something I am still working on daily because so much in our society tells us to put kids first and other things after. AND kids just need things all the time, like help opening a banana, or to nurse, or to change a diaper, or to play games! Ha!
Describe a time where you were completely overwhelmed as a mother.
Four weeks postpartum with our first born son. I started having “weird thoughts” that now I have learned were completely normal for new moms and are called intrusive thoughts. From what I have learned, our bodies are intuitive and are in a mode to be aware and protect our babies. Most new moms experience intrusive thoughts in one form or another. For example with our third child, after he was born, I vividly thought about the possibility of me or someone else dropping him while going down the stairs. The thought came into my mind very often, where before I would have been worried. By reframing and understanding things differently, I gently thanked my body and mind for tuning in and reminding me to take it slowly going down the stairs and to be more cautious while others held him. Many mothers stay silent in shame. If you are reading this and experienced this as well, know you are normal. I would encourage you to get to a momma’s group or talk to a doctor. I plugged myself into Honey: A Space for Mom’s in Ferndale, MI after having our third child. That is where I realized I was totally normal and felt supported!
Is there anything you feel that you have lost about yourself since becoming a mother? What have you gained?
No. I think I have just evolved. It took me a long time (5 years) to fully open myself up to the vastness that is motherhood. While pregnant with our second son, my prenatal yoga teacher talked about grieving your maiden self (yourself before kids). I realized, right when she said it, that I still had not allowed myself to grieve and close that chapter and fully welcome in motherhood. After allowing myself to grieve my maiden self I felt a massive shift towards opening myself fully up to being a mom. I loved my son (and daughter) so much AND at a deep level didn’t quite feel like motherhood fit me. After that process I felt like I opened myself up to the vastness of the role as a parent/mother. Now I feel that motherhood fits perfectly. I am so grateful to experience it and I am grateful to get to feel that. It was always hard to feel like for some women it just perfectly clicked for them.
In terms of what I have gained from becoming a mother; empathy and humility. Loads of empathy and loads of humility. DAILY! And such fun and beautiful moments with them. I feel most alive and whole seeing them smile, laugh, and experiencing the simplest of things.
What do you want your child(ren) to learn from you?
I just want them to feel loved from their momma. They will learn so many things from so many people and experiences in life. I hope they will know they are loved and I hope they are kind to others and themselves.
We know that no two births are the same. Can you tell us the differences between your births?
We have had three births. Our first was different in the sense that our daughter died and I delivered her stillborn. We went to the hospital because I didn’t feel movement and she didn’t have a heartbeat. I immediately went from wanting to try a natural birth with no epidural to not wanting to feel any of it. I think I just didn’t want to feel that massiveness of what was happening. Although it would seem horrible, which of course it was, it was also such a beautiful time and birth because that was our time with her. We were in Kansas and I got an epidural early on so really didn’t feel much physical pain. Just the pressure while pushing. My husband and best friend were in the room for the entire labor. We experienced every emotion during that labor. About one hour before Hadley was born my childhood best friend showed up and was there for delivery. We held her for a while that night then spent time with her the next day before saying goodbye. I often get asked what would be a helpful gift to give someone if someone you know experiences a stillbirth. They Were Still Born: Personal Stories About Stillbirth by Janel C. Atlas. It was THE most helpful thing early on in grieving. It has so many stories from other women and their experiences of stillbirth.
Our second birth, of our son Lars, was such a different experience. We hired a doula knowing we needed and wanted support. We delivered him vaginally, with full Pitocin and no epidural at 38 weeks. We chose to induce early because we didn’t know why Hadley had died and so the doctors suggested doing it. Our doula walked us through the entire birth, advocated for what we needed, and really guided me and my husband through the entire birth. And when Lars came out it was such an unbelievable moment to experience him. Our room was dark most of the time, our doula brought essential oils, and my husband was the best DJ ever. I still say some of his song selections and timing is what got me through. I will never forget seeing Lars with his eyes wide open and feeling him in my arms.
Our third birth, was really a culmination of learning from our birthing experiences with Hadley and Lars. We took a birthing class from an unbelievable woman in San Diego who was also my prenatal yoga instructor. Through that process, my husband and I got to a point that we were very confident in knowing what we wanted, felt equipped with birthing positions, felt we could advocate for what we wanted during the labor process given whatever curve-balls may come our way, and felt much more open to letting the birth be whatever it was that showed up. We delivered at the Karmanos Natural Birthing Center in Royal Oak, MI. We were fully open to getting epidural or not forcing a natural birth if I changed my mind during labor. I ended up delivering vaginally with no epidural (and no Pitocin needed this time). Michael and I fully did that birth together. We were basically on our own with very minimal monitoring. Of course our midwife popped in once in a while along with our nurse, but we just got to intimately deliver our third baby together. AND our nurse massaged the heck out of my lower back for some of it like a boss! Our lactation consultant told me about the breast crawl and that they didn’t need to take baby right away to do all the measurements and things they routinely do right after if the baby looked okay. So they left Lennox right on me in in my arms. We left the vernix on until we left the hospital two days later (I like staying for as long as I can). We left Lennox on for the breast crawl that took about an hour and a half until he crawled up and latched on. I am beyond grateful learning about this from our lactation consultant. It was a complete game changer. He was calm during the entire process and it was such a calming/bonding experience for us.