By: Iya Misa-Martinez

To say that motherhood is difficult is an understatement. I never fully understood the beginning of its hardship until I carried my own child in my belly and gave birth to her.

It’s not even the full tip of the iceberg. As a first time mother, each day with my eight month old is another day in Mom School. The moments of joy and being mesmerized by their cuteness are overflowing, and so are the challenges that come with raising them. After all, motherhood is a full time job. We cannot just choose the moments that do not involve numerous diaper changes, fussiness, tantrums, and us as mothers yearning to feel and look like the queens that we are once again.

Amidst the draining parts of motherhood, I make sure to remind myself that this is only for a season. A short and unbelievably fast season. Here are my 5 struggles as a first time working mom, in a no yaya household, in the time of a pandemic. These are situations that test my fortitude and continue to stretch me in ways I cannot imagine, but most of all, these are struggles that I get to turn into wins and remind me that no matter how challenging it gets, I was made for this and my heart will always flutter at the thought of being called Mommy.

After all, motherhood is a full time job.

1. Healing from my c-section, physically

Birthing happens differently for every mother. Mine progressed through an unplanned c-section. I went through labor and was cut open after 17 hours, all without my husband due to covid-19 restrictions. An emergency c-section was needed to get my baby out of distress and into this world at the soonest possible time and the safest way possible. The panic was one thing, the pain was another. Waking up to the discomfort made me question my high pain tolerance which didn’t feel so high then. I remember crying alone in labor, breathing tediously underneath my face mask and face shield, saying “Enough, please”. Post-delivery, I will never forget the feeling of defeat when I told my husband as he helped me up from the bed and walked me to the comfort room for my first voluntary urination, a simple task that took ten long and grueling minutes, “It’s not possible to move. I can’t do it. Tell the doctors I need to stay in the hospital longer.” Long story short, I didn’t stay longer. Sometimes I still wonder how I functioned with the combination of pain and numbness all over my body while at the hospital and during the weeks of recovery, all while being all that a newborn needed me to be 24/7. I didn’t think my husband and I would be able to do it on our own. I doubted that my body would cooperate. Looking back, it takes me back to that awe I’ve always had for my own mother who just always seems to make the impossible possible.

2. Healing from my c-section, emotionally

They say you will never be fully ready for childbirth but you can prepare the best way you can. Diligently prepare was exactly what I did. I ate right, I stayed fit. I was prepared for a normal delivery so a c-section was far from how I had imagined my birth story would go.

The physical challenge was expected, the emotional pain was not.

Shifting birth plans at the last minute after 17 long hours of pain made me feel like my body had failed me, and I in return had failed my baby. I was engulfed by the surge of brand new and unfamiliar emotions that it took a while for me to objectively process what I had gone through. Reading up led me to understand the occurrence of mom guilt and shame from being unsuccessful in vaginal birth. It was overwhelming but as I put everything in perspective, I reminded myself that it didn’t matter how my baby came into this world, what mattered was that she did so safely and healthily.

3. Breastfeeding

I will never forget coming home from the hospital, now away from the very helpful lactation consultants, trying to figure out the new milk factory that is my body and being in tears from the pain brought about by clogged milk ducts, the frustration of not producing enough milk at the beginning, the endless wondering whether my baby is able to take in sufficient amounts, and the sheer exhaustion from hours and hours of feeding. I am in awe of the body’s ability to produce milk that is all that a baby needs to grow during her first six months of life, but it is one tough commitment. Breastfeeding takes dedication and persistence. It has asked from me time, patience, and lots of sacrifice. They don’t call it “liquid gold” for nothing.

4. Powering through sleep deprivation and tiredness

I’ve said goodbye to long hours of uninterrupted sleep even before my daughter was born, thanks to all that peeing on the 3rd trimester of pregnancy and overall discomfort from a full-grown belly. I was always one to nail at least 7 hours of sleep a night. It was a priority. Going from that to being sleep deprived and on-call for my baby’s needs, these days I often wake up wondering how to power through another day of the usual demands from work and managing the home, on top of motherhood, while sleep deprived and multiple cups of coffee deprived (due to breastfeeding). I learned to accept and understand that the answer simply was that I can no longer do it all and that is fine. There are nights when I would fall asleep forgetting to take the laundry out of the washer to dry, there are days when I cannot be a provider of home-cooked meals, there are times when clutter has to sit a bit longer all because I am too tired, and that does not make me less of a wife and mother. As long as my husband and baby are cared for, happy, healthy, and loved, on most days that is enough.

5. Dealing with physical changes in my body

I now get how I used to hear mothers say that having babies changed their bodies in a way that’s not I gained five pounds. There are days when I am one of those mothers. Your body changes, as in it alters in ways without the guarantee of it reverting. I am not one to obsess about outer appearance and my enthusiasm for fitness was more as a lifestyle. I enjoyed working out as a hobby and simply being physically strong. I managed to stay in shape even while pregnant but when the baby was out, I noticed all sorts of changes in my body that I didn’t think would bother me until it did.

The body go through changes during and after pregnancyThe body go through changes during and after pregnancy

I tried to brush it off reminding myself I wasn’t raised to be vain or superficial, and that real beauty is found in a heart that is good and fixated on the Lord. There was a period of frustration and there are still moments when my current body looks and feels strange to me like it is not my own. But with my eyes back on track, seeing the reflection of a body that was the first home of my baby, that continues to nourish and keep her safe, I let go of all that was and fully embrace what we can call the mom bod. I honor my body and how it grew my baby in the womb: it formed her eyes, nose, lips, ears, her ten little fingers and ten chubby toes that melt my heart every day. I thank my body for the built-in milk factory, for my arms that aren’t as firm as they used to be but they hold my baby tight when she needs comforting, for my legs that are always exhausted from moving around the house all day but they keep me going, and for every other part of this mom bod that works harmoniously so that I can be the best mom that I can be to my baby.

I know there are many moments of doubt for us mothers. Whether we are doing enough and if we are doing things right is part of the daily load we carry.

The questions in our head may never seem to end and answers may seem elusive, but this is for sure: our heart is our children’s home and every ounce of our being is made for us to be their mothers.

Iya Misa- Martinez
Iya Misa- Martinez
Iya is an entrepreneur behind accessory brand Misa, KinderClub Playschool, Cafe Floriana; and currently handling a retail brand selling educational books and toys. She advocates sustainability and minimalism in her circle of influence and strives to enjoy the simple and essential pleasures in life. Above all, Iya is a wife and a mom to an eight month old baby girl.

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