Being a new mom is stressful; you stress about everything from the baby eating to the baby sleeping to making sure the baby is hitting his/her milestones. Now imagine being a new mom and having all of that stress THIRTEEN weeks earlier than expected! Then add on an almost FOUR MONTH stay in the NICU! That is exactly what happened to Santana.
We were so lucky to be “introduced” to Santana through another one of our wonderful Mom of Fame moms. We didn’t get to meet her in person, but we definitely feel like we know her after writing back and forth and reading her thoughtful answers. She can probably introduce herself a little better, though:
“I’m a Detroiter, coffee lover and foodie. I work as an Attorney for Social Security and I enjoy working out, dancing, and trying new restaurants. [My daughter}, Maya, was born at 26 weeks and 5 days due to preeclampsia. I went in for a glucose test and my blood pressure was through the roof, unbeknownst to me. I had no symptoms other than some swollen fingers and ankles. They were able to monitor me for 10 days until making the call that Maya would be better off outside than in. She was born on Good Friday and spent 116 days in the NICU. Other than her lung development (she was diagnosed with a pretty severe case of bronchopulmonary dysplasia) Maya thankfully graduated pretty much unscathed, albeit with an eighth of a liter of oxygen. Since then she’s just been thriving and jumping over milestones! She’s my Mighty Maya!”
Santana’s journey as a mom began much earlier than expected but she didn’t let that stop her from being the most amazing mom she could be. Please join us in welcoming her to our Mom of Fame, she certainly deserves it!
What is the best piece of advice you were given about motherhood? Did you take it? Would you give that piece of advice to someone else?
The best advice I was given is there is never enough time in a day, and that’s okay because there’s always tomorrow. I’m the type of person who plans everything, so hearing this advice really helped me to put my “time” into perspective. It’s okay if I missed bath night, or if I didn’t go over Maya’s shapes and colors before bed, or if Maya didn’t eat her serving of veggies for dinner. It’s okay! There’s always tomorrow, it’s not the end of the world, and sometimes your “plans” don’t work out as planned. Being so type A I try to use each day as a new start to be the best mom for Maya that I can be and to not be too hard on myself because… there is always tomorrow.
I have and would give this advice, when appropriate of course. There is no clear cut guide on motherhood, so we have to look out for one another and lift each other up when necessary.
How is motherhood different than you imagined it would be?
Motherhood is a lot different than I ever imagined because I never in a million years thought I wouldn’t have a healthy stress free pregnancy. I’m a planner! I wanted a summer baby and everything was going to be perfect. But, with motherhood comes joys, pains, and many unexpected turns. I ended up in the hospital with preeclampisa after going in for a regular doctor’s appointment. Maya was eventually born at 26 weeks 5 days, 1 lb. 3oz. I was not expecting to spend the next 116 days on a roller coaster ride in the NICU and I definitely wasn’t expecting for her to come home on supplemental oxygen. But through that experience I learned so much! I never expected that motherhood would strengthen my faith, allow me to see my partner in a new and different light and ultimately love him even more, teach me so much patience, and make me feel like I can do anything! I legitimately feel like I can overcome anything now that I’m a mom and my family went through such a traumatic experience, yet came out stronger.
What are your three strengths when it comes to motherhood?
Three strengths… that’s tough.
1. LOVE. Well, I always felt so much love as a child, which I think enabled me to love without limits. The world is a cold place, so everyday I make it a point to make Maya feel loved.
2. KNOWLEDGE. My husband will think this second strength is hilarious, but I know everything. Lol. And if I don’t know it, I’m wise enough to defer to others. If I can’t find my answer through research I’m sure I know someone who is a reliable source who does. I never burn my bridges and somehow manage to keep in contact with people from all walks of life. So any answer or reassurance I need about a cough, itchy eyes, fever, whatever is a phone call away. I may be an attorney, but I always joke about being an honorary M.D. haha.
3. FAITH. My last strength would be my faith. I want Maya to know that she isn’t here by luck or chance, she has a purpose. So every night we pray and we’ve done this since she was born. I want her to know God and to know she’s not alone. I know that when I’m having a crappy day, or if I’m upset about something I’ve heard on the news I can turn to God. And I hope I instill that in Maya. Even when no one understands, God does.
Describe a time where you were completely overwhelmed as a mother.
A time when I was completely overwhelmed as a mother was definitely when Maya was in the NICU. Wondering if she would survive, worrying about her lungs, possible infections, her development, what will happen when we take her home, etc. I tried to take it one day at a time. Some days were horrible, to the point where the doctors didn’t know if she’d make it through the night. And others we were on cloud nine just happy she could sustain kangaroo care in one-hour increments without her breathing becoming unstable. Somehow, everything came together. We took it one day at a time and kept our eyes on the prize… bringing her home.
Is there anything you feel that you have lost about yourself since becoming a mother? What have you gained?
I don’t particularly feel like I’ve necessarily lost anything other than the sheer ability to do whatever my heart desires whenever I want. Like, I can’t go to the mall during Maya’s nap time. If I venture to the mall, I can’t try on clothes, it’s gotta be fast. No more mani/pedis, I have to settle for a polish change. But nothing major and nothing that I can’t eventually gain back when time allows.
What I’ve gained is the ability to carry multiple things at once so I legit don’t have to make 2 trips to the car. I got Maya in one arm, she’s got an item, I got my work bag and laptop, a few grocery bags…ya name it, I’m carrying it, in one trip. I’ve also learned how to love without limits. There is no love like the love you have for your child, and the love I have for my hubby for helping me make her. So new found love is a gain for me.
What do you want your child(ren) to learn from you?
All I ever want for my child and my other hypothetical children is to be a good human. Be kind, be strong, be a good friend, and help those in need. And I hope I am showing her that.
What advice would you give to a mom who has a baby in the NICU for an extended period of time?
I would definitely say keep a journal. It was very therapeutic for me during that time to write daily about how Maya was doing, her ups and downs, and of course my own feelings. It’s a bonus now because I get to look back and read that journal in awe that we made it through that experience and also Maya will have it when she’s older.
I would also say to ask your NICU doctor to pair you up with another mom who is near graduation with her little one to “mentor” you. It’s so nice to have someone to talk to who has been through a similar experience. I try to give back by mentoring others and I also had an awesome NICU buddy so I definitely recommend it.