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    Posted December 13, 2012 by
    Orlando, Florida
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    How did pregnancy change you?



    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     HotMessMom, a mommy blogger from Central Florida, wrote about the ups and downs of being pregnant three times in five years. After the birth of her third son, she was so busy juggling her professional career and motherhood that she lost herself. It took three years of trying to make time for herself before she found her identity again.

    She offered this advice to parents, new and old: 'You are more than an incubator and more than a parent. Sometimes that's hard to remember. Be true to YOU. Change is good. Change is a part of life. You will grow. You will change... but don't become what you 'think you should be' now that you are a mom.' How did pregnancy change you? Share your story here.
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer

    I was never more beautiful than when I was pregnant. Honestly. My skin was dewy, my cheeks were rosy and my hair looked like an ad for Paul Mitchell. My ass was the size of a truck, and my boobs were pornographic, but other than that, the rest of my body stayed pretty much intact.

    That was pregnancy Number One. It ended with an emergency C-Section and a beautiful baby boy.
    Pregnancy Number Two was more of the same. Less morning sickness, more exhaustion. Still could have starred in a porno with the words “big bootie” in the title.

    Another C-section. Another beautiful baby boy.


    5 months later, the circus came to town. {both literally and metaphorically} I woke early to get dressed before waking the boys (ages 2 ½ and 5 months). I pulled on my favorite jeans. They fit in the waist. They fit in the tummy. They were tight on the ass. I cried. Then I woke my husband and told him I was pregnant again. Then I cried some more.


    There is nothing I can say about pregnancy Number Three, because from that morning on, I was in survival mode for the next 4 years. Somewhere in those years I had another C-section and another beautiful baby boy. We named him Luke. Because “Fluke” seemed rude.

    I cannot write in specifics about when my kids were babies because I do not recall specifics. I know that I didn't skip a beat when I had the first two kids. I kept my life. I was superwoman. I did it all and I did it well. Honesty... I did. I would throw those kids in the car, pack a bag and do whatever... dinner, movies, shopping, lunch, weekends with friends, whatever I wanted. People were amazed by my ability to “get it done”. And THEN, when I found out I was pregnant with the third, I stopped and I never recovered. Truly.


    I had 3 boys in 3 1/2 years. That’s 5 years of getting pregnant, being pregnant, and recovering from being pregnant. I remember crying a lot. And yelling. And fighting with my husband. And not speaking to my husband. And being lonely. And exhausted. And feeling like a failure because I still wanted to do it all and do it well. But I just couldn’t.


    I had many professional friends. I had no mommy friends. NONE. I live in a neighborhood full of stay-at-home moms. I had a job. And a nanny. I met other moms. They were nice. They invited me for playdates, lunches, parties and events. I did not attend. Ever.


    My husband travels for a living. I was alone. Thankfully my parents lived close and offered meals and occasional babysitting. I never left the house when they babysat. I slept. Every chance I got, I slept.


    I didn't read a non-children's book for 5 years.


    Right after the baby was born, my oldest (3 ½) started playing soccer. These soccer moms were my first mommy friends. These mommies helped me. And so did the soccer dads... Everyone was kind. Everyone understood how totally overwhelmed I was with my life. Nobody judged.


    In my professional life, I was great... I felt great, I loved my job, I had responsibility and could actually finish projects. At home, nothing was ever finished. I was a wife and a mother. And I LOVED being a wife and mother. But I had lost myself.


    As I began to make more mommy friends, I began to resurface. I started to have an identity. I started to recognize myself again. This was not an overnight occurrence... it took a few years, but little by little I returned. ME. Not "mommy", not "honey", ME.


    I began to take time for myself. Not a lot, but some. And some was enough. A glass of wine with girlfriends. A solo trip to the mall. An hour in a chair reading a book while leaving the kids in front of the television. Leaving a wet or dirty diaper untended for an extra 10 minutes so I could finish a chapter. I felt guilty. Then I felt less guilty. Then I felt entitled. I knew I deserved it. I deserved some ME time. I was a better mother and a better wife when I made myself a priority.


    We started entertaining again. I invited my husband’s friends over. We had drinks. We played board games. We laughed. Watching him in his natural environment, laughing with friends... I remembered HIM. Not the husband, not the dad, not the journalist... HIM. The guy I had dated. The man I fell in love with.... there he was, on my back porch playing Balderdash... I had forgotten him.


    Remembering HIM helped me remember ME. I was on the cusp... I was getting some alone time... I was almost a real person again......almost. I had to push those final steps... they didn't come naturally. I had to fake it. I had to pretend I was ME. I had to pretend to be fun and entertaining. I pretended to be a good mom. I pretended to be a good wife. I pretended to like people. And then I quit pretending... and I just WAS. It happened! It finally happened. It took a few years... but it happened. There I was! I had officially RESURFACED. As a real person. A whole person. A better person.


    I’m supposed to be writing about pregnancy. Cankles and hemorrhoids and leg cramps. But that’s not my pregnancy story. My three pregnancies combined were only the first mile in my parenting marathon. {the only marathon I’ll ever complete, by the way} It is impossible for me to think about pregnancy without feeling relief. Relief that those years are behind me. Relief that I came through the other side as a whole person and not just someone’s mom. Being a mom is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. Being myself is the best thing is the best thing I’ve ever done for my children.


    So, why write about this instead of lactation and support hose? Because I forget. Because it's important. Because nobody tells you that you will be lost. We are taught how to pay bills and balance a checkbook and change a diaper. We are taught how to nurse, how to burp, and how to administer infant CPR. We are given advice on sleeping, eating, walking, and colic. We are not taught how to be happy. We are not taught how to be married. We expected perfection. We didn't get it. We try to be perfect. We are not.


    If I could give advice to anyone beginning a family, it would be this:
    Moms: as soon as you are comfortable, take some time off. 15 minutes, an hour, a day... whatever. Take it. Find the time. Make it happen.


    Dads: encourage her to go away.


    Moms: let him handle it. He can. You chose him. You married him. He is the daddy. Don't criticize. It doesn't matter if he puts the diaper on wrong. It's not the end of the world if he feeds the baby Stage 2 food instead of Stage3. It doesn't matter. Let him help you. Let him in.


    Dads: be patient. She is a mess. She is lost. She will return one day. She will be even better and stronger and more beautiful than before. It's going to take some time. Don't forget her. Don't give up on her. She is worth it. Remember her


    {Pics: 1- My baby shower for my first child. 2-The day I had my third child. 3- About the time I started to feel like ME again. 4- Our family today. }

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