Sept. 1, 1999
It has been four days since I found out I was pregnant and I am still absolutely overjoyed! I’m anxious, scared (not to mention broke from buying all the baby books out there). I have no doubt I’ll be a good mother. This baby is a dream come true. Suddenly, nothing in life (including my career, which I was once so into) seems important. I wanted to be the next Oprah (she’s the hottest talk show host in the country.) Now, I just want to be the best mother possible. All that matters is making my baby’s life in the womb, the safest it can be for his or her glorious entry. I’m sooooo happy.
Nov. 7, 2001
Well, it looks like Mya is about to get a little sister. Found out I was pregnant again a few months ago. I was a little stunned at first, but I’m getting excited because the girls will be close in age. I hope they’ll be the best of friends. I haven’t been keeping up with my entries like I wanted. Being a Super Mom is hard :-). It looks like I’m about to give this motherhood thing another try.
Oct. 3, 2006
Oh, my God! I’m pregnant again. I think I need a drink.
These are actual entries from my journal. I am amazed at my range of emotions with each pregnancy. Don’t get me wrong, I love all my kids equally, but the joy at news of their conception elicited a different reaction each time.
Let me start with my first born. After three years of marriage, my husband and I decided it was time to bring a life into this world to share in our blissful joy. But after spending all my life trying NOT to get pregnant, getting pregnant would prove easier said than done.
We tried everything—ovulation predictors, calendar counting, folic acid, standing on my head after sex, then eventually, fertility treatments. After the emotional roller coaster of a miscarriage, I finally got the news that I’d prayed for, cried for, and dreamed of. I was pregnant again.
Once I made it through the first trimester, I got over my fear of miscarrying again. I prepared to bring my baby into the world. I read every parenting book, subscribed to every email (I still get those freaking emails from Babycenter.com and my kid is thirteen years old.) I wanted to be the perfect mom. I had my superhero cape nicely starched. I took pictures of my growing belly. I bought that little device that let me listen to my child’s heartbeat and I fell asleep each night listening to the soft thump of her heart. I hired a young artist to hand-paint decorations on her wall. I decorated her room with the best furniture and I bought her the cutest little designer clothes. Nothing was too good for my little princess.
Since she was to be the first grandchild, my family was also eager for her entrance. My mother and sister had flown up to Oklahoma City, where I was living at the time, to be with me as I brought this bundle of joy into the world.
And boy, was I ready to bring her! I had done the Lamaze classes and read more books than the downtown library could hold. I was educated to the point that I could teach some pregnancy classes myself, and when the doctor suggested a C-section, I balked in horror. I was a “real woman.” My baby was coming in only one way—through the birth canal.
Or at least that’s what I thought until I went into labor and was told the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck and we needed to do an emergency C-section right away. At that point, any foolish perception about what made a real woman went out the window. Only one thing mattered—my baby’s safety.
Four hours later, the nurses placed my tiny baby girl—Mya—on my chest. My husband stroked my hair. “She’s so beautiful,” he said, pulling the blanket back, so I could get a good look.
I smiled as I glanced at her, then frowned in horror. “Oh, my God; what’s wrong with her?”
The nurse laughed. “She’s just bruised. Really bad.”
That was the understatement of the year. This child looked like she’d just gotten out the ring with Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier AND Mike Tyson.
“But . . . but,” I stammered. How could I voice what I was thinking? How could I tell my family, the doctors, anyone, what I was really thinking, which was What is that thing? What was I supposed to do with this little caramel thing with red pock marks all over her body? And to top it off, she was bald-headed!!! Like, not a lick of hair anywhere. Like, you couldn’t tell which was smoother, her head or her butt. I had bought baskets of pretty little bows. What was I supposed to do with those now???
“Shhh, don’t cry,” my husband said with a huge smile. Men can be so clueless. He thought my tears were because of the beauty of giving birth, and I was crying because I was trying to think of ways I was going to hide my child from the world.
And then she smiled.
My baby smiled, displaying the biggest dimples I’d ever seen and my heart melted. And I reminded myself that she’d just had five feet of umbilical cord trying to strangle her to death. Of course she was bruised! And her hair? Well, I would just have to learn to get creative with hats and scarves, which is exactly what I did. My child had a hat or a scarf to go with every single outfit to cover the fact that her hair didn’t start growing until she was four years old.
I chronicled my emotional journey each day, beginning a diary to my daughter that I planned to present to her on her eighteenth birthday.
I documented everything. Starting with my pregnancy, throughout her birth, her first steps, her first smile. You name it, I wrote it down. I have the ultrasound picture, the first doctor’s report—even the pregnancy stick.
Two years later, enter baby number two. I guess the thrill had diminished some because her journey wasn’t documented as well and I definitely didn’t keep any of her six pregnancy sticks. (Yes, six. I had to be sure!) Her birth was drama-free (but don’t tell her because I’ll lose my leverage). I scheduled a C-section, showed up at the appointed time, and voilà! Baby! (My husband says my first words when she came out were, “Does she have hair?” But I’m gonna blame that one on the drugs; at least that’s my story.)
My second child, whom I named Morgan, always jokes that getting her sister’s hand-me-downs began when she was in the womb. I can’t argue with that, because she’s right. I used the same heart monitor to listen to her heart. I used the same breast pump, the same maternity clothes, the same cute baby clothes (but to my credit, Mya had so many clothes that she didn’t get to wear, that many of them were still brand-new.)
What I didn’t duplicate was the journal. I wanted Morgan to have her own. I started the same concept with her and got as far as . . . buying the journal. (Actually, I did write in it—twice.) I had good intentions, but the reality of motherhood set in.
By baby number three, five years later, I think I wrote my emotions on the back of a Subway napkin. And since that was a surprise pregnancy, well, let’s just say, I’m going to leave it at that. (Eventually, my son will learn to read and I’d hate to have to spend thousands of dollars on therapy as he tries to come to terms with “how Mommy really felt.”)
The bottom line is, I started off with good intentions with all my children and that’s all that matters, right?
I think that’s what happens to us all. We start off with grandiose intentions. We have all of these plans; then reality sets in. We quickly learn that motherhood isn’t for the weak and that it takes a special kind of woman to navigate those choppy children waters. But we learn to do the best we can, and if we’re lucky, the good times far outweigh the bad. And at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.
The Motherhood Diaries
As the working mother of three children, ReShonda Tate Billingsley knows motherhood isn’t a perfect science. She openly shares stories with her thousands of followers on social media about her children: thirteen-year-old Mya, the diva whose Instagram post—and subsequent punishment— went viral; to ten-year-old Morgan, who has a serious case of middle-child syndrome and a knack for giving her teachers a few of her mother’s favorite things; and finally, Myles, a witty and precocious five-year-old who, as his grandmother says, “has been here before.” It was while chronicling her journey that she discovered she wasn’t the only mother who longed for the days when she could use the restroom in peace, who sometimes sat in the driveway because she didn’t want to go in the house, and who sometimes wondered, Is this what I signed up for? Hence, The Motherhood Diaries was born.
Through humorous and enlightening dialogue and narrative, ReShonda chronicles her own journey, as well as reveals candid imperfections of a mother trying to balance it all. With humorous and heartwarming stories from other mothers also trying to “get it right,”The Motherhood Diaries shares candid and honest conversations about the good, the bad and the downright disastrous path of mothering in the New Millennium.