What are the things that you absolutely love, cherish, and enjoy about being a new Mother?
My oldest child is four-and-a-half and my twins are one-and-a-half, so they’re all still in that sweet, cuddly phase where they can’t get enough of being with my husband and me. I can’t imagine what it will be like the day they don’t want to spend every waking minute with us, or when they’ll say, “mom, you’re embarrassing me.” As exhausting as it is being needed so often, it’s been my reality for almost five years, and it blows my mind that it won’t always be this way.
What things are most difficult about being a new Mother?
I think the hardest thing was and sometimes continues to be the sleep deprivation. My oldest was not the best sleeper early on. He took forever to sleep through the night, but by three-years-old, he was an amazing sleeper. Our twins were born the week he turned three, so we were thrown back into the sleepless nights just as we had finally escaped them. With twins, the exhaustion was multiplied. We were literally up every hour most nights for almost a year. They eventually became better sleepers, but even now we’ll have the occasional marathon night where one kid is up after another. Life with three kids is hectic, but I feel much more able to manage it all when I’m rested.
Tell us a story about a moment that really made an impact on you as a New Mom.
I have Factor V Leiden, a genetic blood clotting disorder that makes me more prone to blood clots. I’ve known of my condition since my early twenties when I developed my first deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Because of this, I always had to take special precautions during my pregnancies, including injecting myself with blood thinners starting from the beginning of pregnancy through six weeks postpartum.
I didn’t experience any issues related to it with my first pregnancy, but nine weeks after my twins were born, I was diagnosed with an iliofemoral DVT. The blood clot blocked my entire femoral vein and continued straight through my iliac vein. The clot extended from my calf all the way through my abdomen. It was one of the most painful experiences of my life, rivaling the C-Section recovery I had just undergone with the twins. After the condition failed to improve a few weeks after my diagnosis, I had to spend four days in the ICU having the clot removed by a vascular surgeon. I was in the hospital the week the twins turned three-months-old.
The buildup of fluid from the clot caused me to gain over fifteen pounds literally overnight. After having a long, painful 38-week twin pregnancy, and another painful eight-week recovery after my C-Section, it was the last thing I was prepared for. It was a huge blow psychologically as I had just started trying to workout again and get into a new routine with the kids.
My husband, a physician, was still in fellowship training at the time. He worked overtime taking care of me and the kids while working in his fellowship and working extra to make up for my income since I was on an extended leave from work at the time. We have always been a good team, but that experience truly highlighted our strength and determination in our roles as partners and parents.
It was not easy, and it was a huge lesson in expecting the unexpected and pushing myself to be strong. It took time for my affected leg to feel normal again, but five months after my ICU stay, I ran in our local 8K (~5 miles) turkey trot race for the first time since having kids. I hadn’t run the race in several years, and I knew I would be much slower than in races past, but it was symbolic for me. After having endured the physical challenge of a twin pregnancy (which was much harder than my singleton pregnancy), recovering from my first C-Section, and undergoing the DVT and vascular surgery, it was a different way of challenging myself and reclaiming my strength.
The kids woke up every hour the night before the race. We were also hosting Thanksgiving at our house, but I knew I needed to do the run. My husband was super encouraging and did all the prep work and cooking while I was at the race. I jogged the whole thing, finishing in an hour and fifteen minutes. Afterwards, I immediately threw up. I was slow, but truly pushed myself, and I felt so proud of everything I had accomplished not just that day but that entire year.
I’ve always been strong but being a mother has truly made me a force.
Candace Alnaji is an award-winning attorney, blogger, writer, speaker, humorist, and mom of three (including twins). She is founder and author of the popular blog, The Mom at Law, a platform that supports women through all stages of career and motherhood.