Time to introduce to you our new Empowering Mom. She conceived her daughter through IVF and she shares with you her story. Meet Aimee!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you become a mom and how old is your kid/s.
My name is Aimee and I'm 35 years old, Texas born and raised. I have 2 wonderful step children ages 12 & 15. I gave birth to my daughter on March 22, 2019. I had to go through IVF to conceive her. I call her my Nemo (Finding Nemo reference). Out of 22 retrieved eggs, then through fertilization to genetic testing, there was only 1 embryo that was able to be transferred, my Nemo.
Would you tell us a little bit more about IVF process?
The whole process is exactly what you think, a lot of shots, medications, and is mentally and physically tolling. They provide you with a schedule of what to take and when, and some days, I was giving myself 4-5 shots.
IVF is a 2 part process. The first part of shots and medications are to prepare your body to create as many eggs as possible. If you're bloated producing the normal monthly "1", imagine having dozens in you. The second part is getting your body prepared to receive your embryo. In the first part, I produced 22 eggs! They then took those 22 eggs and fertilized them, and I was left with 6 viable embryos. We were given the option to have genetic testing done, and I'm very happy we did. Genetic testing informed us that 5 of my 6 embryos were missing certain chromosomes that would've resulted in me having miscarriages. That means there was a possibility that had we not done the testing, I could have gone through the transfer process 5 times before getting pregnant with my 1 good one. Not only would that have been extremely expensive, but more importantly the emotional and psychical toll it would've put me through would've been extreme.
We were blessed to have a healthy and full term pregnancy our first time. I'm so thankful for our amazing doctors and the support from my husband.
Are you a stay at home mom or are you pursuing your career or passion? Tell us more about what you do?
I'm blessed to be a stay at home mom. I spend my days running around after my daughter and making sure our house is happy and healthy.
How did you cope in the difficult pandemic times?
When the pandemic hit, my daughter was only 9 months so we made sure to get out as little as possible. Then quarantine started, and it didn't feel all that different. I stayed home a lot with her and rarely went anywhere. We started taking a lot of walks and I had to get creative with activities at home. Pinterest became my go to website for things to do. Mentally it was hard, we missed out on so many “firsts” because of the quarantine. Her baby dedication, 1st birthday, family reunions. So many moments that she missed out on celebrating with friends and family. But we are lucky to be healthy and we are staying positive and know we will get through this.
How would you compare your old self (prior to having kids) to the present self. Let us know what is the biggest thing that your kid/s changed about you?
I think the biggest change is my social life and mental state. Before kids you can make plans spontaneously and do almost anything you want. I was a lot more selfish and free spirited. I’d buy the more expensive shirt or spend an extra hour with friends at brunch and not think twice about it. After kids you have to schedule things so far in advance and options are limited. You always have to consider nap and feeding schedules, activities if they’re with you and whether or not they’ll be entertained and cooperative. I was a lot less selfish after. You really don’t have any time to think about yourself. You spend the money on them instead of you. And there’s no more “extra time” with the girls. But that would be a piece of advice I'd give to new moms, take just a small amount of “selfish time”. Get that Starbucks, take a long hot bath, leave the baby with the spouse and have a Saturday brunch with the girls. Mom guilt is real, but remember they need you happy and healthy.
What is the 1 thing (or more) that you wish someone would have told you about parenthood before you had kids?
1. Let others help you. As a first time mom, I felt like I had to do everything because I was the mother. But it's ok to accept help and even more, it's ok to ask for it. Let them cook the meals and clean the house while you soak in those prcecious moments with your newborn or get some sleep. You're not failing as a mother if someone helps you.
2. Video record everything! While a picture captures the moment, a video lets you relive it. You'll blink and a year flies by. I love when the few videos I took pop up on my social media memories. I really wish I had recorded the birth and I wish I had asked my husband to capture more moments of me with her.
What do you think is the biggest challenge of being a mother in today's world?
My biggest challenge was the pressure to do things the way others did it. Especially with social media showing how everyone does things their way, you're sometimes scrutinized for doing things your way if it’s different. From breastfeeding or formula, disposable or cloth diapers, or separate beds or co-sleep, I was constantly getting pressured to do things a certain way that I might not have liked. I had to remind myself daily that I needed to do what's best for me and my child. While I appreciated their input, I chose to do things the way my husband and I wanted to.
What is the best memory that you have with your kid/s so far?
Every time I got to breastfeed her. That is the one thing that only I got to experience with her, and that bond is something that I'll cherish forever. Before I gave birth, I prepared myself for the possibility of not producing or her not latching properly. But everything worked out perfectly and I got to breastfeed her for 6 months.
List 3 things that were really useful and made your life easier during your baby's 1st year. Recommend other pregnant moms what they should have on their registry.
1. Babymoov Lovenest Newborn Head Support Pillow. It helps the baby's head develop and not produce "flat head". My daughter used it during the day until she learned how to roll over, but not at night, and her head shape turned out perfectly.
2. Baby Brezza Formula Dispenser. This was such a time saver! Yes it's pricey, but so worth it. Despite any bad reviews, mine worked great! Plus, they are usually on sale on their website, and you can resale it after your baby is done with formula and recoup some of the costs.
3. A great play mat. My daughter loved this one. It was great for tummy time and stimulated her while on her back. She still plays with the piano.
Tell your best advice for the first time mom who is expecting but doesn't know what to expect:)
Soak in all of the cuddles you can, because once they're mobile you'll have to chase them to get a hug.
If you're interested in schedules, look into Babywise. My husband introduced me to Babywise and I'm so thankful we did it with our daughter. She was sleeping through the night very early, of course she had her night time feedings, but I was always the one who had to wake her up to do them. Keeping her on a feeding and nap schedule made life easier. I was able to plan schedules around it.
I also started writing to her in a journal during my pregnancy and still do today. I'm writing all the details about special occasions so I don't forget anything; pregnancy, birth, first holidays, first birthday. I love knowing that she'll have all of the details at her fingertips when she's older.
Thank you so much for sharing with us your story.