1. Describe your child in 3-5 words.
Independent, stubborn, brilliant, hilarious, brave
Ava Brielle was born at 9:13 p.m. on November 1, 2011 at Trinity Hospital in Minot, ND.
3. How would you describe your pregnancy?
Surreal. Still can’t believe I actually grew and delivered a human. I had a rough pregnancy from day 1. I was high-risk for the entire 41 (yes, 41) weeks. I had placenta privea and was told I could miscarry up until I was 21 weeks. That was the most stressful 21 weeks of my life.
My daughter was born via C-section, and the recovery from that was a nightmare. Not only did I have a C-section, but a month later they had to remove my gall bladder (it was 3 times its normal size), and I had a hematoma removed as well. I spent the first few months of Ava’s life in and out of the hospital. Despite all of that I feel that my daughter is a miracle.
4. Describe yourself as a mom in 3-5 words.
Unconventional, doting, strict, goofy, forever changed
5. What type of mom do you hope your child thinks you were someday when she's old enough to tell you?
I want Ava to be proud of me and see me as a strong woman. To know that I loved her and did my best to give her the best life possible. I want her to see it is possible to find a balance in life. I am now a single mom, so it is so important to me she understands that I would sacrifice everything for her happiness. That I was supportive of whatever she chooses to do in life, and that my love for her is truly unconditional.
Well, this is tough for me because every day I feel like I could do something better. I know I’m really hard on myself because I’m a single mom and I want to “get it right.” I’ve figured out that this is completely irrational! I’m really proud when people tell me how great Ava is, especially when it comes to how she behaves. I am doing my best to juggle working and being a single mom. Learning as I go.
7. What have been the most difficult parts to being a mom?
Being a single mom. Lol. All the worry and stress is doubled. However, with that being said, I get to give out double the love and that definitely comes easy for me with my daughter. I definitely worry if she’ll grow up any different being in a single parent household. I want the best for my kid, so I often feel like I over compensate. Finding a balance is a challenge.
8. What is your favorite baby product(s) that makes your mom job easier?
Ava loves being outside so her wagon and Little Tikes car have been life savers! She plays in them for hours! She also loves her Baby Einstein books.
9. What advice about being a mom would you give to a brand new mother?
Chill out and take time to enjoy your children! I openly admit I am really rigid about a lot of things, especially when it comes to having a plan or a schedule. I’m slowly learning to relax and go with the flow. I will also say that you can never hug or kiss your children enough. I have a very limited amount of hours with Ava at night, so I smother her as much as possible. Life is way too short and I really don’t care if she likes it or not!
10. What is a typical day like for you?
Wake up, eat breakfast, drink coffee, take a shower, get ready for work, wake Ava up, give her breakfast, get her dressed, off to daycare, me to work, get off work, pick Ava up from daycare, get home, make dinner, feed us both, nightly bath, play, read books, back to bed for Ava, get everything ready for the next day, me off to bed!
Because she's a single mother, I asked April a few extra questions this month, thinking so many could learn from her experience.
What helps you get by as a single mom?
Many things! A solid routine, a budget, strong spiritual faith, a positive attitude, time management, and the support of friends and family. I have leaned on my family A LOT, and a few close friends to help get me through some really rough times. Since I work full-time, I HAVE to have a solid routine during the week. This keeps my daughter and I balanced. I also made a vow to myself that once I month I would get a babysitter and do something for myself. Either go out with friends, take a painting class, yoga, etc. I also got back into my favorite activity: running. It helps me mellow out and relieves stress.
I also love our Mommy Stories mom’s group. I have learned a lot from different postings and responses. Frankly, knowing that my daughter is growing up and looking at me as a role model encourages and inspires me to keep going.
2. What has being a single mom taught you about how strong you are?
It has taught me to be resilient. On those days I don’t think I can, I’ve learned I actually CAN. I’ve been through a lot in my life, especially having deployed twice to the Middle East when I was in the military. That was tough and taught me to live with the basics. However, being a mom is definitely the hardest and most rewarding job I’ve ever had. It has tested me in every way possible. Giving up is not an option. I can’t (not) get up in the morning. I can’t (not) go to work. I can’t (not) take care of my daughter. I just accept my situation for what it is. I will do anything to give my daughter the best life possible, and will sacrifice what I need to sacrifice to do so.
3. What advice would you give to a newly single mother about managing on her own?
If support is offered, TAKE IT! For a while I feel like I wanted to prove I could do it all on my own. I really think keeping positive and having a routine (like I mentioned above) is really important. When I moved to MA from North Dakota, I felt lonely and out of place.
I think it’s easy to judge our situation, but the reality is, many of us are not single parents by choice. I did not foresee raising my daughter on my own. Once I got over people judging me, I felt a huge relief.
There are many positives to being a single parent. My daughter knows what I say goes. She doesn’t live in a household where conflict exists. She receives double the love and attention. I feel like her and I have this really cool and special bond because we are a team, and it’s just the two of us. She’s all I really have at the end of the day and I cherish it.
The biggest thing is to stay positive and don’t feel like you have to be supermom. Accept your situation for what it is and do the best you can. It is important to get involved in play groups, church groups, or just try new activities. I enrolled my daughter in gymnastics, and we always find fun things to do together on the weekends. Usually it is just her and I hanging out since I still don’t have a lot of mom friends in the area, but just getting out of the house helps tremendously!
4. What can mom friends do or say to support or encourage single moms like you?
Being nominated for Mom of the Month is incredibly flattering! The friends I do have do not judge my situation and lift me up when I’m feeling down. Every day isn’t sunshine and butterflies, and most of the time I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. My mom friends (and family) have given me great advice and tips when I run into a situation with my daughter I’m not sure how to handle. Sometimes it is encouraging to hear them say they are going through the same things I am, even if they have a significant other. Good to know I’m not alone.