Real Mama: April M.

Image by Cari Hollis Photography

Tell us a little about yourself…

I am a 30-year-old single mama to an amazing little man. He was born three days after Christmas in 2010. I was born and raised in a small town in Massachusetts. When I was 17, I joined the Army National Guard as a tank mechanic. After basic training, I went to college and studied biology. I did a year-long tour in Baghdad in 2009, and left the Army in 2010 when I became pregnant with my little man. I did get married in 2008, which ended in divorce in 2012. I currently work as a clinical research associate in the field of diabetes.

Where is home?

After college, I moved to a city called Manchester in New Hampshire. I bought a great little home with a yard in 2007. It is a small city, but there are so many options. Little Man and I are very happy here!

What are your secrets to balancing your life as a single, working mama?

While I love my little man, I am also very proud of my career. I am gone from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. most week days. Little Man and I have from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. each weekday evening together. Two hours a day is tough, but we cram so much into those two hours, they are my favorite part of the day.

Due to our custody schedule, I only have one weekend day with Little Man. It is a tough balance— you have to make each and every moment count. Will my child remember the floor wasn’t vacuumed or that I am three loads behind on laundry? Or will he remember our homemade play dough, our bubble blowing session, or our nightly “Where’s Waldo” routine?

The laundry will always be there tomorrow, but the opportunity to rock my little man to sleep will not be there forever.

What do you feel is the best advice, if any, that you’ve given as a mama?

The best advice I can give to a mama-to-be, or a new mama, which I wish I had received, was how difficult nursing can be. It is not always the magical bonding, stare into their eyes, experience right from the get-go. There were nights where I sat in the couch crying because he just wouldn’t latch. There were endless visits to lactation consultants (please, reach out to your local LCs, they are a huge support system).

We nursed strong for ten months, but those first two weeks I didn’t even think we’d make one month. It can be difficult, but please, hang in there, fight through it, it will get better, maybe even magical for some!

Are you the kind of mama you thought you’d be?

I never sat down and thought about what “type” or “kind” of mama I’d be. I most certainly never thought I would be a single mama. Some days it’s hard, it’s very hard, but I love my child and I want the best for him, so I make my parenting decisions based on that. I try to let him live.

If the worst thing my child puts in his mouth is the occasional piece of dog food while I’m not looking, it will be okay. (I would like to note that I most certainly do not encourage it though!)

We get dirty, we play, we laugh, we hug, we kiss, and in the end, I guess that is the type of mama I want to be, not necessarily what I thought I’d be.

Image by Linden Photography

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years I hope to have a strong, loving relationship with my pre-teen (oh dear, that is a scary thought!). While my marriage didn’t work out, I am not scorned or bitter, I would like to find someone to have a meaningful relationship with and would be open to a second marriage.

Would I like another child? Yes, but if it doesn’t happen I will be accepting and okay with that too.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

If I could have any super power I would have an iron-clad immune system! Ha, does that count? Mamas don’t get sick days…

Was your birth experience all that you hoped it would be? If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

My labor and delivery experience was fabulous. I had a great nursing staff, easy labor, and smooth delivery. I checked in the hospital at noon at four centimeters, got an epidural at six centimeters at 5 p.m., and delivered shortly after midnight. I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

I would like to change what happened after the delivery though. Sadly, Little Man was born with a fever and TTN (his respiratory rate was too fast, and he couldn’t eat and breath at the same time, so his blood sugar dropped too low). Due to the fever and the blood sugar problem he did end up spending three days in the NICU. It’s hard to be away from your little one an hour after they are born.

Is there anything else you wish to share with the Mama Say What?! audience?

I think the biggest thing I try to remember is that no matter what, that little person loves you with all they have. Some days, especially those where dinner ends up on the dog’s head, or when I get out of the shower to find 20 lbs of dog food on my kitchen floor, or my running shoes in the toilet, or a finger painting session on my kitchen floor… in egg yolk… I have to step back and look at my child. Most times when he does something like this, if I look at him before getting exasperated, frustrated, or upset, I catch a glimpse of this HUGE grin of accomplishment —as if to say, “Look what I figured out how to do mama, I helped feed the dog, or I loved painting with you last night, I wanted to do it again.”

It may be harder some days, but try to keep your cool as often as you can. They are little, they are exploring, they are learning. Take every experience you can and turn it into something positive. After our dog food episode, I now hand little man our food bowl and he places it on the floor for the dog. He still gets to help out, and I don’t have a giant mess to clean. Win win.

Image by Linden Photography

4 Responses to Real Mama: April M.

  1. <3 you guys! You are such an amazing mama!

  2. I just love your story. VERY INSPIRING!!!!

  3. Such a great post!

  4. Loved reading :) I have so much respect for single moms and all the things you have to handle on your own. You’re doing a great job!

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