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Individuals at Birth

Trying to figure out our babies, even if they know who they are from Day 1.

Individuals at Birth

Motherhood was a complete mystery to me when I was pregnant with my first daughter. I barely could grasp my own thoughts and emotions on the subject without bursting into tears, so to imagine a little person, who would soon be mine, with her own feelings and personality was beyond my comprehension.

And then she was here.

Iris Ann Noel came into the world ferociously. It was not without drama or danger; she was opinionated and feisty from the get-go. She didn’t want to nap, she’d let anyone hold her, she conquered milestones young.

Perhaps it is easy to see these things in a different light now, as they continue to be indicative of my beautifully wild first born. She is filled with an enviable, joyous excitability, a reckless, fearless zest for life and for people. Now that she’s four, it’s easier to say, yes, she was always this way.

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And it is humbling to look back on that time, to think about myself as a clueless first-time mom, and to see how much Iris already knew of herself from her very first seconds in the world.

My second pregnancy flew by in a blur. I was busy chasing my only-just one-year-old, and so the things I really remember of Edith in the womb are the clues she shared with me about who she would be. My pregnancy with Edith felt intimate somehow, the way she would dance only when I sang, or how she seemed to tap my belly when I was finally sitting and still. I tried to guess who she would be, what shape her personality would take.

Edith made her debut with quiet grace and with infinite amounts of instant affection. She loved the simple parts of being a baby—eating, snuggling, staring at me in that newborn way that makes you melt. I would look on and on into those endless gray eyes and swear I could see the universe. She was an old soul from the second she appeared. And this is how I have watched her grow: certain of herself and reliant on her mother’s encouragement, pensive and eager to learn, independent and focused.

I have often mused how babies and young children are actually the purest versions of humans. All they know is what they have in them, unspoiled by the so-called ways of the world or cultural influences. They are wholly and only themselves, and isn’t it funny that we all spend the rest of life trying to be that without fear or hesitation?

Sometimes I catch the purest parts of ourselves—my husband and I— in them, the things that have been passed on to them, whether through nature or nurture. It’s easy to say that Iris is much more like her father, unhindered and thrill-seeking, peacefully content, and extroverted. They are almost manic, unable to sit still, and this endears them to all who know them. They are the big life of our family, filling the walls of our tiny apartment with fun ideas and silly jokes.

Much like Edith, I’ve been called an old soul myself. I like to sit quietly, though not lacking in intensity. I like to take my time. I trust my gut, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t considered all of my options. Reading a book on a rainy day sounds more appealing to me than a raucous party. My emotions are incomprehensibly enormous.

Both of my girls have rich, buttery blond hair, milky skin, and stretched out limbs that make them seem taller than they ought to be for their ages. They have deep belly laughs and gaps in their front teeth and shiny bluish-green eyes. Every day they hear how alike they are because of these physical similarities. Though 18 months apart, the older they get, the more often I am asked if they are twins. Bubbly, giggly sisters, to a stranger, each one is like the other.

And yet they are nothing alike.

I know a woman who has an adopted son whose skin is a different color from that of his siblings. She shared such rich wisdom with me, saying, “In our family, we don’t talk about similarities, we celebrate our differences, because that is what makes us strong.” I loved sitting in this for quite some time, thinking about all four of my family members, each one an individual with unmistakable strength, something to bring to the table.

I love seeing traits in my girls that resemble their father, who is an ideal person to try to be like. I am humbled (sometimes nervous!) about the traits they share with me. It can be shocking to watch them smile back at me, feeling for a second like I’m looking in the mirror. It’s adorable to watch them interact with each other, to learn from each other, to mimic in admiration (and sometimes torment). We are a family, and I love that to know us is to easily recognize that. We stick together. We learn together. We grow together.

We are also individuals, celebrating differences that make us an incredibly strong unit. How I long to hold fast to this truth as I continue to love my family, to mother my daughters.

This is one motherhood’s greatest privileges, to consider life in a new way through the wide eyes of our innocent babes. I’m grateful for every moment I’m forced to stop and relearn something I already thought I knew. I tell them “Mommy knows best,” yet they have consistently brought to my attention better ways of living.

May I always be in awe of who they are at their cores. May I be eager to learn what makes them unique. May I be grateful for the opportunity to interact with these one-of-kind, vivacious lives who have been making differences in the world since the very moments they arrived.

Image source.

 

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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Life

Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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