It’s funny: thanks to my favorite feature on my Day One Journal, my end-of-year journal entries automatically resurface through an “On This Day” recap, and I’ve had an opportunity to read through all my new year sentiments from the past six years or so.
There definitely were common themes.
I haven’t accomplished everything I’ve wanted to… but I will next year. I’m going to lose that weight. I’m going to get healthy. I’m going to write more blog posts. I’m going to be happy. I’m going to take care of myself.
Forgive me, but this blog post is also going to be filled with some of the same stuff… We’re creatures of habit after all, right?
A little under two months ago, I gave birth to my second son.
It’s a funny thing because, while I’d always envisioned myself as a mother, I’d never thought that I’d be the mother of two boys. I guess I’d always assumed I’d have at least one daughter (not to say that isn’t an option in the future; I’m just not really thinking about another baby anytime soon).
As a modern-day woman — and one who had grown up in a household with a 2:1 female-to-male ratio —, the thought of raising a daughter always seemed a lot more straightforward. I knew from direct experience the lessons I wanted to impart on her, the gender expectations I wanted to sidestep.
But a son? Let alone two sons?
There is a lot more gray area for me to navigate — and a basic lack of understanding of the modern male experience. Raising boys always seemed like an intimidating task to me.
Thankfully, I have an amazing partner who’s had his own experience navigating harsh expectations of what it means to be a man. And he’s been so integral in helping us prioritize how we want to raise — and, ultimately, define some key lessons that we want to impart on — our boys.
It’s my first Mother’s Day. And while the weekend was both low-key and eventful (main highlights: a lot of downtime at home with my three best guys and an emergency visit from the paramedics when Micah had an allergic reaction to formula), it’s also given me an opportunity to reflect on motherhood in general and, specifically, what that means within my life.
Today, on Mother’s Day, I want to recognize that who I am as a mother has only come to fruition because of a few notable individuals around me. So here are a few thank-you notes to a few important people in my life…
After almost five and a half months of maternity leave, I’m finally returning to work. I knew that this day was going to be filled with a bunch of emotions — but, despite everyone’s warnings, I couldn’t have anticipated how intensely those emotions would hit me.
Honestly, there’s a part of me that’s eager and excited to return to work. That’s the part that suffered major cabin fever while on leave and yearned for some type of routine other than nursing my baby around the clock. The part that’s looking forward to conversing with other adults about things other than cradle cap care and feeding schedules. The part that can’t wait to see my work friends and be back in the city and work on something for me, for once.
Don’t get me wrong: I recognize how lucky I’ve been to stay with my baby for as long as I have. Nearly half a year of parental leave is a rarity in the U.S. And, bottom line, I would never exchange the opportunity I had to bond with Micah for anything else in the world. It’s been a whirlwind of a journey, but I know that Reggie, Micah, Henri, and I are all a little happier because I spent this time at home.
But I also know me. And I know that I would’ve always wanted something for myself in addition to being the best mother possible for my boy. Which is why going back to work always felt like an inevitability to me.
While we prepared for our son’s arrival, Reggie and I would have long discussions about potential names, just like every other couple. But we had an added complication: what would his last name be?
You see, I have something to confess: in case my extensive social media presence didn’t tip you off, I never took my husband’s last name after we got married. Admittedly, I had every intention to change my name while we prepared for our wedding; I even wrote my supposed married name on our marriage license. But months passed, and my willingness to complete the paperwork waned… And I ultimately realized that I was putting off the name change because I didn’t want a name change.
I realized that the practice of a woman assuming her husband’s surname was unnecessary (people would tell me that the name change was needed for insurance or tax purposes, which is completely untrue) — and, frankly, undesirable. I equated changing my name with changing my identity: I had no desire to become an entirely different person, and marriage wasn’t going to change my passions, my goals, or my priorities. So I decided to drop the “B.” from “Sarina C.B.,” and I continued on as “Sarina C.” For good.
Welcome to “beanbrain,” my personal pregnancy and parenting blog. Before we get things started, I first want to share some things about motherhood and me:
(1) From a young age, I’ve always envisioned myself as a mother.
I know there are some women (and men) who never consider having or simply don’t want to have children. I was never that person. Whatever the reason, I always knew I wanted children of my own. One day.
(2) I had zero expectations in terms of how I would feel about and tackle pregnancy and parenting.
When I first announced I was pregnant, people would ask me the same few questions. What are you excited about? Nervous about? Do you want a boy or a girl? My answer to all of the above: “Honestly, I’m not thinking too much about anything.” As a first-time parent, I knew that I wouldn’t have the slightest clue as to what I would be doing once my child came into the world. My closest friends and family also warned me that the reality of pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing would be drastically different from anything I could imagine or expect. So, as I entered pregnancy, I vowed to live my days as open-minded and open-hearted as possible.
(3) There were so many times throughout my pregnancy and during my first few weeks of parenthood where I thought or said, “I wish people talked about this…”
Despite my lack of expectations, there were a few things that happened during my pregnancy and in the early days of motherhood (from a miscarriage scare at the beginning of my second trimester, to my reaction to learning that I would need to deliver via C-section, to the struggle I had with breastfeeding) that made me feel anxious, frustrated, and — above all — alone. Only by talking to other women in my life did I realize that these experiences (and their accompanying emotions) were more common than I thought.
And that’s why this blog exists. This is designed to serve as a safe space not only to share my thoughts and emotions with you but also to confirm that we are not alone when it comes to the less-than-pretty aspects of pregnancy and parenting.
Every week, I hope to share different reflections and personal experiences on a variety of topics, and I invite you to share your own experiences with me. So here’s to figuring out motherhood together!