By Angela Potter
Alyssa is a fantastic photographer here in Portland. We met when she took some photographs for me and we became fast friends. Do you like the photos on my website? They are all thanks to Alyssa! She is a wonderful mother to two sweet children.
Where do you call home?
This is actually a really difficult question! I've lived here in Portland, Oregon for 11 years now this summer so part of me is starting to wonder when I become an "Oregonian".
A few times a year I still venture back to my hometown in Iowa and gather with my immediate family (my 4 siblings & their families) in my parent's home where I spent all of my youth. My heart always feels so much peace there and a sense of belonging that I have yet to develop in Portland.
How many kids do you have?
Two! My daughter is 5 and my son is about to turn 2.
What was one of the hardest changes for you physically during your postpartum journey?
Oh boy. Hmmmm. I'm not sure if there was just one piece that was a struggle rather than just the whole transition in general.
I was definitely that mom trying on her pre-pregnancy jeans way too soon and way too often in postpartum wishing they would fit and being really angry with my body for not changing back. I did not want to accept that I was different. I found that as my body developed into pregnancy, I would see my shape and feel so beautiful in my curves. In postpartum, I struggled to see any beauty in the shape I was left with. Finding clothes that fit my new breasts and belly and thighs was emotionally taxing.
What was one of the hardest changes for you mentally/emotionally during your postpartum journey?
I had struggles with breastfeeding with both of my children. Even though it was difficult with my daughter, she was always at a healthy weight and growing steadily.
Unfortunately with my son, we had a much more difficult breastfeeding relationship. I could tell that he was having trouble eating and that was confirmed during his pediatric check ups. I was stressed every single day trying to feed him. It was overwhelming and draining and there was never an escape from the madness of trying to figure out what was wrong and why he couldn't get the milk. It was horrible. We went to endless lactation visits without answers but only more advice on what to do differently.
The roller coaster ride of emotions, the lack of sleep, the constant stress and helplessness spiraled me in to a low place.
What has been your greatest joy in motherhood?
I realized my greatest joy recently when I was reflecting on wanting to have another child. I realized that I just wanted to meet another new person; it's such an exciting thing! It is so much fun to get to know my children.
I think a lot of moms have that feeling of awe when they meet their baby for the first time; all you can do is stare at them and take in ever little detail of their body, and every sound they make. I love getting to know the uniqueness of each of my kids. I love interacting with them, finding out their favorite words to say, learn about the foods they prefer, what activities they want to do all the time.
It's always changing as they grow and that is fascinating to watch and be a part of, just getting to know this little human from the beginning and through everything.
How was your postpartum experience different with each baby?
If I'm honest, I already don't have the most accurate memories of life after Evelyn BUT I do remember that I was able to offer myself much more self care. It was a lot easier to get in that nap, go out on the town, and just sit still. Everything was new and I really had the time and attention to take it all in. That was wonderful.
After my son, there was a nice buffer where my mom was here helping out but after that I felt like I was in chaos for a good 6 months. I was stressed with breastfeeding my son while at the same time my daughter had these intense emotional needs and demands that I couldn't fulfill at the immediate moment that she was used to getting them fulfilled. Every day was a struggle to give her what she needed while trying to give my son what he needed.
I remember that our house was so crazy that our dinner table was just covered in crafts for days and possibly weeks (it's such a blur!); markers, coloring books, playdough, whatever would keep Evy busy for 10 minutes so I could get something done.
What is one resource that felt invaluable to you during the postpartum time?
Friends and blogs.
There really wasn't anything more helpful than my friends. It is extremely easy to become isolated during the transition to motherhood or in the midst of postpartum struggles and I had friends that reached out (and even just acquaintances that noticed something off with me) and I think that made all the difference.
Also, I would often be attracted to blog posts in my news feeds that other moms would post. Usually they were moms reflecting on the reality of motherhood and it normalized a lot of things that I was going through. I knew that I was not alone.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give to pregnant moms in preparation for their postpartum journey?
I wish I had been a part of the group pregnancy visits where you go through your pregnancy with a group of moms and then continue to connect with those moms postpartum. The best thing you can do for yourself is to become connected with women who you can stay connected with after the baby comes. Becoming a mom can be a pretty rough gig sometimes and the trials can be lighter with others around!
Hello hello! I'm a midwesterner turned Portland transplant about a decade ago. I fell in love with the beauty andadventure of the pacific northwest; not to mention the art, the coffee, and the food. I met my husband here and then fell in love with the two little kids we had together. Out of motherhood came a newfound passion for photography that I pursue through my professional business and in capturing the lives of my kiddos.