So, my girl Stevie @sunshine.and.limes, asked me to be a part of her guest mommy blog series, “keeping your identity as a mom”. To be perfectly honest, I was completely surprised and terrified at the same time. You may ask, “What’s terrifying about this?” Well, it’s been years since I had to write a “bio” about myself (or write anything at all for that matter), and especially as a new mom. I was also terrified about mom brain! It’s legit and real! What do I even say about myself? Where do I begin? I guess right here in the quiet of my car as I sneak out to grab my Starbucks coffee. Yes, I am THAT crazy coffee lady who will venture out in the pouring rain of a tropical storm sitting over Key West, Florida. Sure, why not? But, in order to clearly understand how my identity as a mother exists today, there is some background story of how I lost my identity first…So, here goes.
I’m Jen, a 37-year-old Florida native, wife, designer by profession, and mommy to an amazing rainbow baby, Hendrix Rae. You may be asking, “What the heck is a rainbow baby?” A rainbow baby is a bay born shortly after the loss of a previous baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or death in infancy. This term is given to these special babies because a rainbow typically follows a storm, giving us hope of what’s to come.
One of my reasons for explaining the term rainbow baby is because of the immense struggle I had with infertility. Sharing my journey of infertility will hopefully give you a glimpse into how it shaped and added to my experience and identity as a mother. Growing up I had a beautiful and loving family. My parents nurtured and supported all of my dreams and passions. During the 11 years of trying to conceive, my husband and I reached ultimate highs and below bottom lows. My journey to motherhood was certainly filled with so many trials and tribulations, years of pain, tears and huge losses that I began to fear what life as a mom would really be like. There were so many days of unknown, 2 week waiting games, blood tests, fertility treatments, prayers, and tears that I began to wonder who I was, who my husband was, what was romantic love making versus spontaneous baby making, and wonder if we even were chemically compatible. Yes, my mind went there. At one point I had convinced myself that we were not.
We decided we would do ONE last IUI (it was our 7th attempt) and if we weren’t successful we would have to determine if we could afford IVF. At this point we were both emotionally and financially drained. That one last IUI was successful. We were pregnant! I was in complete disbelief. I was petrified actually. I felt so guilty not feeling ecstatic that I was pregnant. I think I was just totally in shock and I couldn’t wrap my head around the reality! So, as the next few weeks progressed perfectly I began to let it sink in. We heard the precious heartbeat at 6 weeks on the dot. Strong and steady! Just as I let my guard down, bam, my heart was ripped out. I started spotting after that ultrasound. The doctor tried to reassure me that the spotting may be caused by the ultrasound wand touching my cervix and that it was normal. Well, two days later I was still bleeding, and it was getting worse. My fears began to set in as I could sense something was wrong. My doctor put me on bed rest and asked me to come in the next day. My husband assured me everything would be okay as he left for a 3 day work trip to CA. The very next morning my mom accompanied me to the doctor’s office. I was still bleeding heavily. I dreadfully walked into the room and, as he examined me, I could see the look of fear on his face. He confirmed there was no longer a heartbeat. In a matter of 3 days we went from on top of the world to underground. My husband literally was on the next plane home. When he arrived home, he held me and reassured me it would be okay. It was and it wasn’t.
That’s when I really went on a downward spiral. If I hadn’t lost my identity as Jennifer up to this point, it sure was gone now. I felt I was unworthy to be a mom. I felt we certainly must not be compatible to have a baby. If all of this wasn’t enough, add the cherry on top….my doubts that I would ever have the maternal instincts to be a loving, patient, and gentle mother and nurture a child. I didn’t know who I was, which way was up, or where I was going.
I made up every story in the book. I was a strong, confident and capable (actually an over achieving) woman and yet I struggled to get pregnant, stay pregnant and be a mom. My husband and I struggled and separated for almost a year. I thought that’s what I needed and wanted. While I was “in my shit” and went to confide in my parents to tell them I wanted to separate from my husband in order to have space to “grow”, my sweet father immediately said, “no one splits apart to grow together.” Boy was he right! I soon found out I was merely existing, no longer living with intention, or following the morals and values that shaped who I was up to this point.
Fast forward 3 years from that point…after lots of personal work, individual therapy, marriage and family counseling, we got back together. Scared as hell but back. The most amazing thing was we came back stronger than ever. Shortly after we were officially back together again, I lost my daddy to cancer. It left such a huge void in all of our hearts. I had dreams of a day he would meet my children. With the passing of my father, I was afforded the most life changing gift from my mother – financial support to do IVF. We immediately started our treatment and it was successful in one try! Of the six embryos created only one strong embryo made it – our “golden ticket”. I prayed the transfer was successful because I felt NOTHING. Not one pregnancy symptom. I remember that as the longest two week wait of all my years of infertility. My hubby was at work but my mom was sitting right next to me when the doctor’s office called. My heart pounded out of my chest. The nurses said, “We know you’ve been trying a long time and there’s been a lot of hard news to hear…well, this time it’s all good news! You are pregnant!”
From that very moment, I identified as a MOM deep in my soul. No trepidation for the viability of the pregnancy. No doubts that all would turn out perfectly. I committed I would never lose myself. Instead of being the victim of my life and story, I made a conscious decision to shift and become the creator and author of my life. I was able to make this commitment both because of the tools I gained in an intensive personal development course I took during my separation from my husband and, in hind sight, because I realized I really was always meant to be a mom.
I’m confident because of that conscious decision, I experienced the most beautiful, peaceful, and relaxed pregnancy I could have imagined. Even as my doctors monitored some scary moments throughout the pregnancy, I was able to stay in a positive state of mind and relinquish control over what possible negative outcomes might have occurred.
The minute I held Hendrix Rae in my arms I cried and thanked my dad, who I know handpicked and delivered Hendrix to us. It made me truly believe “when God closes one door, another is opened”. The door I walked through was motherhood – full of trust for my instinctual ability to be compassionate, patient, loving, nurturing and joyful. Of course I experience the daily grind of motherhood including sleepless nights, lack of showers and the hamster wheel of changing dirty diapers and through all of this I count my blessings and savor each moment, as this is what I always dreamt of.
So, while all of this may sounds like a description of my individual identity as Jennifer, it has shaped my roles as an individual AND a mother. I experience them as a symbiotic relationship. The roles support and enhance each other. Social media platforms such as Instagram have afforded me the ability to connect with amazing women and given me the opportunity to share my journey as a mom through blogging and tiny little squares capturing each moment in time.
I met Jen when scrolling through Instagram one day. Incase you didn’t know you can find her beautiful feed over @the_floridagirl. Her little squares caught my eye and you could feel her energy shining through them. Jen’s story is yet another story I felt was worth sharing. Thank you for sharing your story, being raw and down to earth about your journey. You are bound to inspire someone and keep on inspiring!
To follow along with the blog series you can find the girls prior to Jen’s Story by clicking the names below