Real Mama: Jessica S.

Image by Denise Mabilog Photography

Tell us a little about yourself…

My name is Jessica and I am 24 years young. My daughter Annabelle (Anna) is 18 months old. My husband and I have been married a little more than two years.

I met my husband, Kevin, back in January 2005 on an online video game called Medal of Honor: Rising Sun on the PlayStation2. Kevin lived in Ontario, Canada and I am from New Jersey. We met for the first time in person in August of 2006, and by October we were engaged. At first, our families were a bit shocked and doubtful we would last— I was only 18, in college and we would have to test the waters of a long distance relationship. But we beat the odds and made it through four years of long car rides to see each other, many tearful goodbyes, and many nights spent on Skype.

We were married on October 10 2010, and while we were on our honeymoon I realized I was pregnant. I always knew I would have kids young, but I wasn’t quite ready at 22 to start our family. The first couple of weeks in my pregnancy were difficult for me because my husband had to go back to Canada while I stayed in New Jersey, but to make a long story short, everything worked out perfectly and we welcomed our first baby girl to the world in June 2011.

I am a native of the Atlantic City area in New Jersey. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in athletic training in 2010 and worked briefly for a health care company after my graduation until I left for Canada in November 2010.

I am currently in the process of immigrating to Canada and it feels like a never-ending journey! While I am waiting for my application to process, I am a stay-at-home-mom to Anna because I am not allowed to work or attend school while I am here. It has made the decision to stay home with Annabelle an easy one— well, maybe not easy. I do feel certain that once I am able to, I would like to work and/or return to school. But right now the decision is made for me, so I am embracing this time I have with my family.

When I am not chasing my toddler around, I enjoy baking and making crafts. Above all, in my free time, I love to read!

Where is home?

I am residing in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario! My family is all from southern New Jersey and my closest friends are back home in NJ.

What are your secrets to balancing your life as a loving wife and mama?

I still haven’t discovered them. I doubt myself often and wonder if I am doing enough for my daughter, for my husband and for myself. I have found that out of everyone, the person whom I neglect the most is myself. I have given up a lot to be up here with my family and I sometimes I wish I had more to offer them. I am working on taking better care of myself though.

Image by Denise Mabilog Photography

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

This is a hard question for me. In terms of my mothering, I don’t really think I have someone who has inspired me. I find I do what works for me and for my family. I have always been pretty independent, so stepping into my role as a mother has been something that I have done on my own, without much outside influence from anyone except for maybe my husband.

As a person in general, my biggest inspiration is undoubtedly my daughter. She challenges me every single day. I want to do better, to be better, to give more and to see the world from another perspective… all because of her. I admire how she is able to see something that I have seen a million times and see it differently, because to her it is totally new. I live for baby giggles and slobbery open-mouthed kisses.

Image by Sarah Wiggins Photography

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

When I looked back in Annabelle’s baby book under the question of best advice received, I wrote, “Nothing…. seriously!” and I still think that pretty much holds true. I got the old “sleep when the baby sleeps” nonsense and the classic, “sleep now because you will never sleep again.”

While this may be something I have stumbled upon or heard, the biggest piece of advice I always try to follow is to “trust yourself.” Know your information and trust your instincts. Question things! You always have a right to decline something, and you always have the right to advocate for yourself and for your child!

The advice I give to other mamas is that you have to do what works for you. Trust yourself, trust your body and trust your baby.

The other big bit of advice I give is to find your support team early. If you want to breastfeed, find information on local support — attend La Leche League meetings, make friends with moms who have successfully breastfed their babies, know the contact information of who you need to call in case things are going rough. Having that information ahead of time can be a HUGE step in the right direction for you.

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

Not at all. When I thought about kids I thought about bottles, formula, poopy diapers, and having to hold floppy little things that can break if you look at it the wrong way. I never thought I would be into attachment parenting, that I would breastfeed, babywear, cloth diaper or have an unmedicated birth.

I was that person that avoided babies. Want to hold the newborn baby? Me? Heck no! I would rather poke myself in the eye repeatedly. I was seriously afraid before Annabelle was born that I would not know what to do with her. What if she cried? How am I going to support her neck all of the time? Soft spot— holy crap! The moment Anna was born it was like everything clicked into place. I didn’t have to think about anything, I just knew what to do. Being a mom and taking care of a newborn totally came naturally to me and I had worried for nothing!

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Well, I will be almost in my mid 30s, so I would like to have at least another baby, if not two more, before then. I would like to be working in a job that I love and that I am passionate about. I am still trying to figure out what that might be.

Image by Sarah Wiggins Photography

If you could have lunch with anyone famous (dead or alive) who would it be?

No one famous. I would like to have lunch with my Grams and my NaNa again though.

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

To gently and efficiently help all babies to sleep through the night. :)

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

Yes and no. I had an unmedicated birth that I wanted, but I did not have an intervention-free birth. I have dealt with the idea that I felt my body failed me, or that I failed my body when my pregnancy induced hypertension started. I had so much confidence in my ability to carry and birth a baby, that when things didn’t go quite right I really started to feel like a failure.

The beautiful thing about my care providers was that I was able to share with them my feelings of failure, talk through it and move on. I love that my midwife was there for me from the beginning until well after Annabelle was born. It was a very long day for all of us! Midwifery care in Ontario is absolutely amazing and I couldn’t have asked for better care providers. My whole experience, not just the birth itself, was great. Midwives rock!

If I could go back and change anything, it would have to be to try to prevent my pregnancy-induced hypertension. Having the elevated blood pressure with the possibility of having an induction over my head changed a lot about how I wanted my birth to be.

How has your mothering evolved since those early newborn days? Is there anything, thus far, in your approach to mothering that you swore “I’d never do…” and you are?

My mothering is much the same. I am the total oddball in my group of friends because I LOVED the newborn period. I was out and about, I was healing great, breastfeeding was going really well. I was so relaxed and content. I remember people commenting on how well I was doing. If I wanted to go do something, I just strapped Anna into the Ergo and did it. By the time she was two weeks old we had already been to the midwives, on shopping trips, to a wedding, a birthday party, and a La Leche meeting. I wore Anna everywhere so it was easy to get my bonding time and cuddles, while still being able to get out.

I don’t remember if I have ever said I would “never do” anything. I didn’t think I would use a stroller a whole lot, but I have. I also didn’t think I would use disposable diapers at all, but I have. I thought for sure that I would have made my own baby food, but we totally skipped that when I learned about Baby-led weaning.

Image by Sarah Wiggins Photography

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

Yes! No matter what you do, someone out there is going to have an opinion. They are going to think they know better than you, that you are doing it wrong, or whatever the case may be. Try to judge your fellow mamas less and support each other more!

4 Responses to Real Mama: Jessica S.

  1. What beautiful pictures. I hope your family back in NJ fared ok through the floods and storm? Family is so important and now that you’ve started yours there’s that much more to share and enjoy!

    • Aw thank you! Everyone is doing well, most of my family and friends weren’t hit hard- couple of downed trees and power outages. Very thankful everyone was safe!

  2. Hi Your blog is great. I love the design and I love all the different categories. It’s just like a magazine for busy mums. Good luck with the blog challenge.

  3. What a grand site for mamas! I love the ending of the post “try to judge your fellow mamas less and support each other more.” That should be poster everyone should be required to read every day!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>