Name: Nichole Fermanis
Number of kids and ages: One son (16 months), one daughter on the way (22 weeks pregnant)
Location: Mountain View, CA
The most surprising thing about being a first-time mom is how many differing opinions exist on the topic of motherhood.
I'm a classic planner – I feel most comfortable preparing myself for situations at work and in my personal life. So when I dove into various recommended readings and Instagram accounts dedicated to motherhood, I didn't realize what I was getting myself into. :)
Raising a child is such a personal and subjective experience. I've always known this, but it wasn't until I became a mother that I realized how often I would need to remind myself of this simple fact.
As a brand new mom, I was incredibly vulnerable. I'd get down on myself if I read something that was a recommended best practice and I wasn't doing it. The sheer amount of information intake is exhausting, and for every strongly held "expert" opinion, a contradicting "expert" opinion exists. It's hard to keep up!
While I'm still early into my motherhood journey, I'm grateful that I've found much more confidence in my abilities and my intuition. I feel that I truly know my son, and I trust myself to know what works best for my family.
While certain phases may seem like a lifetime, they truly only last a short while. Children grow so quickly! I've learned to go with the flow and enjoy the moments as much as possible, rather than try to control the stressful bits.
My expectation vs. experience breastfeeding was while pregnant with my son, I didn't have expectations with breastfeeding other than knowing it was something I wanted to try. I went into the experience rather naively, and was surprised by how emotionally attached to it I would become.
Like many things with motherhood, I was also surprised by how polarizing it could be. How many opinions people held, how much pressure there was to do so, and how some people could look down upon nursing in public.
When I speak to my own mother about breastfeeding, she shares that her experience was very different. 30 years ago there wasn't as much pressure to nurse, and she encountered challenges nursing me early on. I was both breastfed and formula-fed and I grew to be a perfectly healthy baby. My mom never seemed to sweat this part of motherhood, so going into my own breastfeeding journey I didn't have expectations of what it should look like.
Fast forward to my first week nursing my son: I read far too much literature on the topic, and stressed myself out over all of the things I "should" be doing. Anytime there was a threat to my nursing journey (oversupply, dip in supply, my son refusing the breast for a 3-week period, 2 bouts of very painful mastitis), I became emotional about it potentially ending sooner than I was ready.
I am grateful to say that my son and I have weathered those challenges. It certainly wasn't easy. We are still going strong after 16+ months, and I have loved the bond that we share through nursing. He's pretty attached to it too!
Nursing while pregnant presents its own unique challenges, but I'm happy to be doing so (at least for now). I never know which nursing session will be our last, so I try to soak in every moment that I can.
The best piece of advice about motherhood is don't compare yourself or your child to others.
While it's easier said than done, it can do wonders when put into practice.
Every family's journey is unique and beautiful. Less focus on what's right or wrong, and more focus on love and support. We could all do with less pressure and more joy in our day to day experiences as parents.