WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE CREATION OF THE MOMMA TRIBE?
After having my third little, I thought I would be a “pro” and have it all figured out. He ended up being a challenging baby and I felt really isolated and alone during that time. Since I am a stay at home mom, I went from taking care of two littles to three littles within a few days and that adjustment was hard. I am a big proponent of ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) that is offered in Minnesota and realized that every momma needs a support system and not everyone has one or access to one due to whatever circumstance (work/home life/travel etc.) So, I decided to create what I wished was available to me.
HOW DOES THE MOMMA TRIBE HELP WOMEN ON THEIR MOTHERHOOD JOURNEY?
The mission of The Momma Tribe is to connect, support, and empower women. Connecting is one of the basic human needs and being a momma can make it hard to find those deep connections we are seeking when we are juggling a thousand things every single day. Support can come in many forms and in The Momma Tribe, support is meeting weekly and having a community you can bounce ideas or problem solve with. The last pillar is empowerment which is my favorite. One of the unique things about The Momma Tribe is that each week there is a topic that is covered centered around motherhood, marriage/relationships, and mind/body/soul care. Each week you have the opportunity to learn from professionals and experienced experts in their field to help us feel empowered as we continue on this journey of motherhood.
HOW HAVE YOU FOUND THE JOURNEY OF RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS AND BEING A STAY AT HOME MOM TO 3.5 LITTLES?
Running a business while being a stay at home mom is the most challenging thing ever. Especially since I LOVE being a stay at home mom but I also LOVE what I am creating and I want my business to flourish while my home life stays the same. However, this takes a lot of sacrifice and give and take. I don’t watch TV on weeknights-- I couldn’t tell you anything about a popular show right now. I will work on the weekends when my husband is home so that I can check things off my list and make small steps in my business. I also utilize family and nap time to get things done. Household tasks and such have gotten delegated so that I can spend my time either with my littles or on my business.
WHAT WAS YOUR NICU JOURNEY? WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER TO MOTHERS WITH BABIES IN THE NICU?
My NICU journey was somewhat unique because I was hospitalized for seven weeks prior to my daughter arriving at 33.1. At 26.6, I PPROM’d (my bag of waters broke) and they were able to stop labor and admitted me on hospitalized bed rest until 34 weeks when they were to induce labor. Antepartum was challenging because I literally lived in a college dorm room for seven weeks straight. I was strategic tho and scheduled visitors almost every day and had a huge community of support who brought food for Matt and Emmett (my son who was 15 months at the time). The hospital was also great and allowed for Emmett and Matt to stay over on the weekends...my bathroom at the hospital was huge so we fit a pack n play in there for Emmett to sleep and Matt slept on the uncomfortable hospital couch/bed.
Those seven weeks were tough but they were not as tough as the NICU. Once Attley came, she was a pretty “easy” preemie. She only needed oxygen for the first 12 hours of her life and then was treated with an antibiotic for a possible infection. Her biggest hurdle was learning to eat. Girlfriend had no interest in nursing or taking a bottle. The five weeks she spent in the NICU were some of the longest and toughest of my life. Not only because I had to navigate life of having a 16 month old at home and a preemie in the NICU but everything fell over the holidays. Thanksgiving we visited her and then went to a family dinner where I got puppy dog eyes the entire time. Not fun. I remember sitting in our tiny NICU room praying for her to eat, crying because it felt so long, and watching Gilmore Girls to get my mind off of my own reality. Slowly she started to take a bottle and with the help of the divine universe, she was discharged on Christmas Eve. To this day, it is the best present I have ever received.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A MOTHER?
I think I have always wanted to be a mom. I played babies at a young age and probably kept playing longer than I should have. I also became a teacher because I loved to be around kids and teach them about life.
WHAT WAS YOUR JOURNEY TRYING TO CONCEIVE?
This question makes me feel guilty. We are blessed and have barley had to try to conceive our four littles. Almost every single one of my friends has had challenges with fertility and I carry guilt that it is not a cross I have had to bear.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR CAREER AND MOTHERHOOD?
I don’t believe in balance. I think it is kind of a myth of life. You can have priorities and harmony within your life but the scale is always going to be tipped to one side vs. the other and I think that is ok.
WHAT ASPECTS OF MOTHERHOOD DO YOU FIND TO BE THE MOST CHALLENGING / REWARDING?
The all consumingness of motherhood. Especially being a stay at home mom, I am on 24/7 and if I am not intention of creating space for myself and time away I can feel my mental/emotional/physical health decline because of it. It is such a gift to see the world through your littles eyes and to see things new again.
HAS MOTHERHOOD CHANGED YOU / YOUR RELATIONSHIPS / YOUR PERSPECTIVES?
Yes it has changed every part of me. Even in the last 9 months I have morphed into a completely different person than I was and I am so happy to be constantly evolving and grown. I think motherhood is extremely tough on relationships-- especially marriage. When you add in littles, everything amplifies and your relationship can suffer. Luckily, Matt and I have taken steps to prioritize our marriage and make sure we are putting the health of our relationship ahead of the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Friendships also change-- I was the first to have littles and some of my closest friends still don’t have them. When you have littles there is an understanding about how drastically different everything is.
WHAT IS ONE THING YOUR WOULD LIKE TO AS YOUR OWN MOTHER ABOUT HER MOTHERHOOD JOURNEY?
I have done this! I asked my mom how she dealt with me! Attley is a highly emotional little girl and I have had to work hard on myself to learn and adapt to how to best support her. When I asked my mom how she did it with me, she said I was nothing like Attley! (que lots of laughing)
HOW HAS MOTHERHOOD CHANGED FOR YOU WITH YOUR SECOND, THIRD AND SOON TO BE FOURTH CHILD?
I have definitely become more lax in some areas with the third. Porter just turned one and is now going down the stairs by himself. Matt and I joke that we never would have let Emmett do that and it is likely true. However, I think the consecutive littles pick up things so much faster because they want to keep up with their older siblings. I also mourned the time I didn’t get with Porter. Emmett was first so I spent my entire maternity leave just with him. Attley was in the NICU so I got five weeks of holding and being with her. When Porter came, I had about three days with him before Emmett and Attley came back from my in-laws and I think that not having some designated time with him affected how I bonded and responded to him as a baby. He was really tough and it made caring for him hard. As we prepare for the fourth, I know I will have to try and be strategic of how I can get some bonding time with baby.
HOW DO YOU DISCIPLINE (CORRECT OR REDIRECT) YOUR CHILDREN WHEN THEY MISBEHAVE?
I look at the word discipline as the word teach. I am constantly teaching my littles- how to ask for things politely, how to use our words vs. hit, how to scooter on the side of the road vs. in the middle. It is endless. I am big on giving two choices. For Attley, it has gotten granular of saying things like “do you want to hold my left hand or my right hand?” When walking in the parking lot...either way she is going to hold my hand because that is the safe choice but it gives her the power to choose. I also stay true to my word and say what I mean and mean what I say. Tonight, Emmett (4) was overtired and fighting getting into the bath. I explained that he needed to take a bath and that if he chose to sit in the hallway he would lose his book for bedtime. He continued to sit and ended up losing his book which upset him. When it was time for bed, we talked about why he lost his book and he was able to articulate that it was because of his decision to stay in the hallway.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU OFFER TO AN EXPECTING MOTHER?
I have an entire google doc titled “Shit No One Tells You About Motherhood” because I felt like no one was upfront and honest about all the crap you go through being pregnant and then having a baby and then postpartum. I think in the last few years since I have had Emmett, people have gotten more open about it but I was shocked that my friends did not tell me all the things that go on!
WHAT RESOURCES WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THAT HAVE SIGNIFICANTLY AIDED YOU ON YOUR MOTHERHOOD JOURNEY?
Friends, ECFE, FB groups
HOW DO YOU FEEL WE (AS A SOCIETY / OTHER WOMEN) COULD TO BETTER TO SUPPORT NEW MOTHERS?
More support, empathy, and acceptance, less judgment, critiquing and criticizing