PHOTO: COLE MOSER FOR FLARE
I couldn’t be more excited to introduce myself to you all through my new column for FLARE that will cover all things motherhood.
Motherhood. Wow. Even just typing the word is mind-boggling to me.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Whitney Port, and I’m a new mom to my beautiful Sonny Sanford Rosenman, who was born in late July of this year. At the moment that little nugget of a human being that I made is sleeping in the room next door. Yeesh Kabob! (Yes, that’s what I write on texts instead of OMG. Feel free to steal it.)
A little background as to why I wanted to share my pregnancy-to-motherhood journey with all of you…
When I was midway through my first trimester and complaining nonstop about my constant nausea, discomfort and exhaustion, my husband asked if he could stick a camera in my face to document what I was going through. At the time, I was laying in bed in the same sweatsuit I’d been wearing for 48 hours, with crusty skin, unwashed hair and leftover snacks—crusty yogurt cups, orange peels and old cups of chocolate milk—sitting on my bedside table for god knows how many days.
Not only was I not “camera ready,” but it was truly the last thing I wanted to do.
His thinking: If I was having such a sucky time during the early stages of my pregnancy, there had to be other people who were, too. If we documented it all, perhaps we could support other women and couples, and maybe even be lucky enough to be on the receiving end of that much-needed support, too.
We called the series I Love My Baby, But I Hate My Pregnancy. Honestly, I was terrified by the title. I thought the backlash would be harsh. I thought others would call me a monster for hating a journey so natural and miraculous.
But I was wrong.
Almost immediately after releasing our first episode, women began to chime in from all over the world to tell me how my feelings resonated with them. They too felt guilty for hating their pregnancies. And they too were relieved that someone else was struggling with similar emotions. It’s not that I wanted people to share in my misery; of course, I didn’t. But I felt the need to normalize the emotional ups and downs that women go through, so that none of us ever feel alone.
As the months progressed onward, something interesting happened: I started to hate my pregnancy less and less and also had the baby! So we made a change, and what was once I Love My Baby, But I Hate My Pregnancy simply became I Love My Baby, But… the ellipsis significant in that it represented the great unknown of all that was—and is—to come.
Just as I’ve done with my videos, I plan to vent, support, teach, prepare and commiserate with all new mothers through this column, too. Because the life-changing journey of motherhood is incredible, but it’s also incredibly challenging.
For today’s column, I want to discuss surprises, both negative and positive, that really rocked my world once we had Sonny.
Let’s start with the negative. (We’ll end with the positive so that hopefully you guys will come back for more!)
For me, the worst—and most shocking—part of becoming a mother has been breastfeeding. While there is a lot of joy in knowing I am nourishing my child through my very own body, there is so much struggle in the process. Many women don’t even have the opportunity to breastfeed, so that in and of itself, is an enormous emotional challenge ridden with guilt. I was fortunate enough to produce milk, but I was constantly in pain and uncomfortable. The pumping and nursing was exhausting and a hassle, and my body changed immensely. My nipples were so sensitive, they nearly bled. I got enormous lumps every day that had to be massaged out. I had to pump or nurse every 2-3 hours. And my body didn’t look or feel right. My stomach was pudgy, my boobs started to sag, my nipples were huge and everything just felt soft. There was and still is also all of the emotional guilt associated with the choice to start or stop.
Before I had the baby, I thought my biggest issue would be not producing any milk. I had been told by so many that breast milk is best for the baby so I shuddered to think I wouldn’t be able to produce it. When people asked me if I planned to breastfeed I’d respond, “Yes… if I can make milk!” In the end, I was lucky enough to produce more than enough. Little did I know that would turn out to be the least of my worries.
Here’s the weird thing: We know, for certain, that formula is 100-percent OK to feed babies. And yet, many of us still feel guilty should we need—or choose—to actually use it.
Right now, this is my biggest inner debate.
Sonny is getting bigger by the second and he’s requiring more and more food, of which I cannot produce. I am digging into my frozen stash and that doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel good because it doesn’t feel natural. It doesn’t feel good because it doesn’t feel like I am doing the best I could be doing. It doesn’t feel good because I compare myself to others and if I stop at four months, I fall short. I bought the formula a couple months ago and for some reason… I just can’t bring myself to use it.
The most surprising thing—and I mean the good kind of surprise—about having Sonny has been two-fold. First, it has made me feel even closer to my husband. It’s so amazing to think we created this gorgeous little boy. To see Timmy as a father is just the best. It has brought out an entirely new nurturing, caring, loving and supportive side that is so beautiful to watch. It is his pleasure to lug all of the gear, to wake up in the middle of the night to feed him, to change his diaper every five minutes. In the morning, the first thing he wants to do, after brushing his teeth, is get Sonny out of his crib and make the connection with him. We were a family before Sonny, but now I feel as though our bond is unbreakable and that makes me feel very comfy and cozy. The love is tangible.
The other surprise is how much love I apparently had in my heart… for a total stranger! The second he was born I was consumed with his well-being. I still am, and imagine I always will be.
That’s the gig, right?
I feared he would stop breathing at any second and stayed up the whole first two nights to listen to and feel his breath. I would let my brain wander and think about horrible things that could happen to him, and how I would feel after or what I would do if that ever happened. It was kind of psychotic! Luckily, those feelings faded as he became less and less precious. But I surprised myself with how far down the dark hole of worst case scenarios I could get.
Lately I’ve been thinking about my new identity.
Not only have I been questioning how others perceive me, but really, and more importantly, how I perceive myself.
Once you have a baby, life doesn’t revolve around you anymore. It sounds narcissistic, but it is really hard coming to terms with putting myself second, or even third. And what if, for one hour each day, I do decide to put myself first? Will others judge me? There are so many questions to explore! Perhaps that will be my next topic! I will continue to ask myself that question and search for the answer until I have one to share.
Thank you for reading. I am so excited to be doing this.