Behind the Pretty Picture

You guys! I’ve been totally lagging on my Kauai post, but I’ve been wanting to write this one for awhile. Probably since Valentina was born (as of this post, shes 20 months!). With mental awareness day having just passed, I thought it was an important reminder- especially to myself, about the social media black hole.

I distinctly remember while I was pregnant with Valentina, scrolling through instagram and seeing so many perfectly posed mommies in their gorgeous nurseries, most of the time all white, with their perfect little babes and everything was just so blissful all of the time. Magic fairies came in to do the mamas make up, while chirping birds did her hair as she got ready to walk her perfectly sleeping baby around the block in her 6 inch heels while paparazzi shot the most perfect candid photos. I used to look at these and think “YES! This is going to be amazing! And gorgeous, and I was made for this!”… and then I gave birth. And you know what?! it WAS amazing, and she IS gorgeous. But.. where the heck are my magic fairies?? and my hair is a MESS.. no matter how loud I sang no chirping birds came to my rescue. Instead, I was wearing a diaper with an ice pack.

Then it was time to breastfeed. Let me tell you, I had read a million blogs and forums about the difficulties of giving birth, about postpartum, about sleep training and everything else. Never breastfeeding. When people asked me if I was going to breastfeed my baby, and this happened A LOT, many times by men! It was a no brainer, of course I was going to breast feed. When I tried, it HURT. I had a milk delay and even when my milk came in, my daughter and I just couldn’t quite get the latch right. Breastfeeding my daughter wasn’t the pictures that you see scrolling through social media where the mom is happily cuddling her baby. It was cracked and bleeding nipples, it was feeding my daughter while I cried, crying because it hurt, and crying because I knew it wouldn’t be enough. I wasn’t enough. After I fed her I was on an intense pumping schedule because it was so important to me that if my daughter wasn’t getting it straight from me that she was at least drinking my milk. I remember for about a month and a half to two months I was just topless all of the time. I went to the lactation consultant almost daily. I put so much pressure on myself to breastfeed because it felt like that is what I was supposed to do, and when I wasn’t perfect right away I was failing and failing HARD. One day, it just clicked and we just did it. I’d also like to add my husband was a God send during this time especially. If it wasn’t for his unwavering support and constant validation I would have gone insane. Another reason why it is SO important to have a support system during this time. I loved breastfeeding her because it gave me some validation. But is that where I should have been looking for it? I wanted to do it, and with a lot of work, I could do it. What about all of the mamas who simply can’t? I never knew all of the struggles that women go through to feed their babies. And you know what? We are ALL doing a phenomenal job. Our babies are fed, happy, and thriving.

When my son was born, I sort of knew what to expect. I knew that post birth is pure bliss, and joyful, and so incredible. My husband actually set up my phone and recorded when my son was born, and got that perfect reaction of happiness like you can never fully explain to anyone else. But this time around I also knew that I would be slowly walking hunched back to the restroom terrified to go. I knew that I would be in a giant mesh diaper and wouldn’t be walking out of there in a few hours completely made up, hair washed and straightened waving to adoring fans a la Kate Middleton. This time I didn’t even pack my make up. HA! How hopeful I was the first time around. This time, the pictures I stared at weren’t the perfectly made up mamas, gorgeous and poised. They were pictures of the messiness and realness of two under two. When my son was born, I just stared. He latched on right away and we’ve been attached ever since. I squealed when my baby girl came toddling in to my room, my gosh I missed her, and I hugged her so tight. My husband and I introduced them to each other as we clung on to our new normal and to each other. It wasn’t glamorous, I was chowing down on chili cheese fries because that was all I wanted, but it was beautiful. MY beautiful.

Looking through all of the pictures from our trip, I was so happy with how many memories we made. How many times we hugged and kissed, and how many times my babies genuinely laughed with their whole perfect little bodies. But behind the pretty pictures? After the dancing videos? There was a mama and papa who got no sleep because neither baby got accustomed to the time change, or the change in their surroundings and took turns waking up multiple times a night. There are teething tantrums, and overly tired tantrums. I lost count of how many times I had to hover over my son and feed him as we were driving, with the side of his car seat digging in to my ribs. Not the safest, but a mama needs to soothe her baby and we were always in the middle of a winding road when he suddenly felt like he couldn’t go another second without me.

We have beautiful pictures, gorgeously made up, outfits well thought out pictures. But my favorite? The messy, the funny, the my heart is going to explode, the raw and the real. The ones that tell a story. Sometimes, the story is “we had an amazing day! Everything went well and everyone is happy!” other times it is more like “we had a fun day. You both cried at different times, sometimes at the same time. Please go to sleep, but I love you and I will miss you.”

I still look at pretty pictures of the perfect families on instagram, and I would be lying if I didn’t sometimes sigh and think wow, they totally have it together! But is there such a thing? I do compare myself with other moms sometimes, its a slippery slope on the ‘gram. But I find that those comparisons don’t stick around for long. Sometimes, I am the beautiful mama with the perfectly smiling babies. My husband was home so I got to wash my hair AND brush it, and we ooze ‘what, like it’s hard?!’ Awesomeness. Sometimes, I am the mama with the messy bun that stays up even after I’ve taken out my hair tie. The mama mindlessly scrolling with spit up stains on my shirt, that in all honesty I’m not sure are even from that day. The mama that locks herself in the bathroom for 5 minutes to cry, wipes her tears and comes out dancing and smiling at her babies.

We are all trying our best, for the ones that matter the most. Regardless of what your picture looks like, it changes and constantly. Those perfect mamas, they struggle too. Maybe more than we realize, how hard is it to get your babe to pose perfectly AND stay still AND clean all of the time?!

Momming is HARD. Amazing, but hard. And its ok, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

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