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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Mom of the Month - Morgan Hotham

I am excited to feature this hard working, dedicated SUPER momma our August Mom of the Month, Morgan Hotham, mom of a busy (adorable!!!) two year old boy. She has the craziest birth story of strength and overcoming disappointments of how feeding ended up, and awesome advice to all moms: you do you. Love it!

Thank you for sharing with us, Morgan, and congratulations!

Images shared from Morgan Hotham

1. Describe your children in 3-5 words. How did you choose their names?
BUSY, Funny, Sweet. His name: A few years ago my sister and I were travelling to Kentucky to visit family. During a layover we were sitting in a small waiting area with many other people. There was a sweet little girl there with her Mom, and she was running through the terminal. I hadn't been paying much attention, but as the toddler ran off I heard her Mom yell "Sullivan! Wait!" I looked at my sister and said, "Sullivan. What a cool name." I never forgot it after that. When we found out we were pregnant a few months later, we decided that whether it were a girl or boy we would use the name Sullivan- Sully for short. Once we found out we were having a little boy, we chose the middle name Steven after my Father. Sullivan Steven Hotham
2. How old are your children? How did you tell people you were expecting a baby?
He just turned 2 in May. How, I am not sure. When they tell you time flies, it's so, so true... We were so excited (and a bit shocked- 1 try was all it took!) that we told our parents right away. My Father-in -law had brought us over some tomatoes from their garden a day earlier, and my parents had said they would like some. We stopped at their house first with a paper bag of tomatoes, and a positive pregnancy test inside. I remember my Dad being upstairs doing something, and after my Mom yelling to him several times to come down, we grew impatient and told her to open the bag. After some screaming and a few tears, she had to pull it together for when my Dad came downstairs and we told him to look in the bag. Lots of excitement! Then we headed to the in-laws to tell them there was something wrong with the tomatoes they had given us... they didn't look quite right... I will never forget my Father-in-law wielding my pee stick around and sticking it up to his face to see the two pink lines Lindsay, who nominated me for this, found out the same day I took my first test. I was in such disbelief that I stopped at Target on my way into work and bought about 5 tests, then locked myself in the bathroom at work. After the first 2 I realized it was real, and I stuck one up my sleeve, walked down to her office (we worked together at the time) and set it on her desk. I am sure my face said it all!
3. How would you describe your pregnancies? How was delivery, birth and labor for you?
My pregnancy was a dream. I only gained about 20 pounds (which has stuck around... ugh!) and was in great health. I am normally a pretty sick person, sinus infections... strep throat, colds, you name it. Other than a rogue stomach virus I was not sick once during my entire pregnancy. I was super lucky and had zero morning sickness. My belly was small so I wasn't overly uncomfortable. I will never forget the nurse who took my weight around my 36 week checkup and said "wow, I don't know where it is, because you definitely do not look like you weigh that!" God bless her. 
As a first time Mom, I was so anxious to meet our baby. When I went in for my 40 week checkup, there was nothing going on. I was nervous and scared, so when the Doctor said she could schedule me for an induction 2 days later, I said yes. 
We arrived at the hospital the morning of May 29, 2014 and I had been having contractions for about 7 hours. I was hoping things had advanced a little, but no dice. 0. They induced me around 7 a.m. After about 6 hours and no movement, I remember looking at my Mom when contemplating an epidural and her saying the words that let me give in "you don't have to be a martyr." The epidural had to be inserted 3 different times as it only took to one side of my body. After it was in place, I found some comfort and was able to rest. I think the rest of it is a blur... my husband is usually the one to recount the in-betweens. 
I remember my last check at about 11:30 p.m. when I was FINALLY dilated and ready to push. The doctor had left and gone home, so they called him back in. I started pushing and had to stop because he was coming quickly. After 15 minutes, our beautiful 7 lb. boy was here. We had some family time, then invited the anxiously awaiting extended family into the room. Tears, happiness, and French fries and a milkshake for Mama. After everyone went home and it was just the three of us, we settled in. 
The nurse came to check on me and started the wonderful process of pushing on your belly- which resulted in a lot of blood. I could tell by the look on the nurses face that it was alarming. She went to get another nurse, and another push on the belly resulted in more blood. A lot more. I remember looking down and thinking "this is not good." I looked over at my husband holding our son, and saw his face go white. Then things went into panic mode. The doctor had once again left, and they called him to come back as soon as he could. They called in anesthesia who once again tried to insert an epidural into my swollen back- no go. The doctor came in and spoke to me, telling me he needed to bring me into surgery as I was losing a lot of blood and they needed to see what was happening. My husband was crying. I was scared. I remember the Doctor and the anesthesiologist fighting, as I had already eaten food and they did not want to do local anesthesia but had no other option. They wheeled me out and for the first time in my life I honestly thought I would not make it. 
The doctor discovered I had a blood clot the size of a football in my uterus. They were able to remove it in surgery and actually recycle the blood to transfuse back into my body (isn't medicine amazing?!) This enabled me to avoid a blood transfusion. I remember waking up, immediately asking for my baby, and then only a few hours later saying "hey, so what happened?" as my poor Father stared at me from across the room with tears in his eyes. I spent 4 days in the hospital on iron drips, etc. Although terrifying, it was totally a freak thing. Nothing particular caused the clot, I don't have any medical problems or clotting issues. My birth story is not one I often offer up to pregnant friends or family as it's one of those "Oh God!!" stories that is totally just a fluke.

4. Describe yourself as a mom in 3-5 words.
Loving, Careful, Worrisome. I'd like to think Fun and Compassionate fit in there, too!
5. What type of mom do you hope your children think you were someday when they're old enough to tell you?
I hope Sully knows how very much I love him, and how I always want nothing but the best for him. Being a Mom is definitely one of the things you can't fully understand until you live it yourself. I look back at all the times I thought my Mom was crazy, or over protective, or too harsh- and I get it. I totally get it. Waiting up at night worrying. Crying over my own heartbreaks. This little human is an extension of your heart living outside your body. You feel so much for them, and with them. I hope he knows that everything I do... day in and day out, is for him. And that I am cool. Right? I am a cool Mom. Yeah...
6. What things have you done as a mom that you're most proud of? 
I look at my son and see how smart, happy, and silly he is... and I know that is from me (and my husband!) He uses his manners. He is caring. He is adventurous. He takes in everything around him. That being said, he is also a 2-year old boy, but hey. Can't win them all. So far he has amazed us with just how awesome he is, and while I give him most of the credit for being his own amazing little self, I know we helped in that. And it's so cool to watch.
7. What have been the most difficult parts to being a mom?
The thing I struggle with most is giving in. I am totally the push-over, which I would have NEVER in a million years expected pre-baby. I don't know what it is, but that little boy does no wrong in my eyes. This infuriates my husband (ha!) and we are working on coming together on this. It's a struggle as we have come to learn our parenting styles are very different. All the things you talk about when you are dating, or first married, about how you will raise your children... where you stand on this issues, or that issue... it all goes out the window when that baby is really here. It's hard. It's taxing on a marriage. But we are trying to work on understanding each other better and finding compromises.
8. What is your favorite baby/child product(s) that makes your mom job easier?
As a baby, I would definitely say the Rock-n-Play was a life saver! It's the thing I most often recommend to my expecting friends. As a toddler, I would say apps. Maybe that sounds bad... I feel like it does. Ugh. Mommy guilt. But really, apps are awesome, or even YouTube (with supervision, of course!) There are so many great learning videos and games that have really helped my son grow. He knows all of his letters, can count (almost) up to 20, know his colors and is currently learning shapes (have you ever heard a 2 year old say PENTAGON? Um, so cute!) We do a lot of work with alphabet magnets, flash cards, books, etc. but his time on the iPad definitely contributes. We limit his screen time, but he really enjoys playing and learning.
9. What advice about being a mom would you give to a brand new mother?
Be kind to yourself. Seriously. Everywhere you go, everything you do, someone is going to offer their input or make comments. Take it at face value, but do what's best for you. YOU know your baby better than ANYONE else. It's ok if you do things differently. It's ok if your way isn't the "norm." You do you. It makes for a happier baby and a happier Mama.
10. What is a typical day like for you?
Ugh, I'm tired even thinking about typing it! We wake up at 5:30 (yup, every day, even on the weekends...) and my husband and I get ready for work. We are extremely lucky that Sully only needs to go to daycare 2 days a week, and my amazing parents moved their work schedules around to be able to stay with him the other 3. So, depending on the day, we either drop him off at daycare or at my parents house around 7:20, then head off to work. We both get out of work around 5, I pick him up, we head home. Let the dog out, change, and (right now) head outside to play for a bit. As soon as my husband is home, I go inside and start dinner. Dinner usually happens around 6:30. Cleanup, bath time, 1 TV show, then we play with toys or read books to wind down before bed. Bedtime is generally between 7:30 and 8. IF there is no fighting or crying... I then make lunch and prepare things for the next day. Finally, we can usually sit down on the couch by about 8:30- enough time to watch 1 TV show before we are both falling asleep on the couch, then mosey into the bedroom. Repeat endlessly.
11. What 5 things would you like to do with your kids someday, if anything were possible and money no object?
1) Travel- often, and everywhere. 2) Have them meet their deceased relatives and all the people who are no longer here, but love them so much. 3) Have a farm. It's a weird dream I've always had... living off the land, having a bunch of animals to love and care for. Big gardens. I think there is so much to learn and it's very humbling. 4) Stay home for a while. I do love my career and being a working Mom, but can't help but feel like I miss out sometimes. I wish I could choose to stay home for a few months out of the year just to live the day to day "stuff." 5) (I am struggling with #5... everything keeps coming back to cool trips and life experiences!)
12. What are your favorite things to do in the fall? What is your favorite part about "going back to school" season?
Fall is my absolute favorite. Like, I literally LIVE for fall. The cool weather, pumpkin everything, beautiful foliage... crisp air. I am sitting here daydreaming about it right now. I have loved fall for as long as I can remember- football games, the start of a new school year, apple picking. And of course the BEST thing about fall is HALLOWEEN. The BEST HOLIDAY EVER. I have been nicknamed "the Queen of Halloween." It's serious.
13. Tell us a time where you felt like you failed at parenting... but then realized you truly had not failed, things worked out fine.
I was super hard on myself about breastfeeding. After birth, my body was really weak. I was taking all kinds of vitamins and supplements daily to help my iron and blood levels stay normal, and I was having a really hard time producing milk. I pumped, he fed, but it was never enough. When I was in surgery, I was out for 12+ hours. He needed to eat, and was given formula. I felt so guilty that I wasn't there for him and that he never really "had a chance" to bond in that way with me right after birth. He has always been small (just hit the 5% mark at his 2 year check up!) and I have always wondered if it were my doing. Would he be bigger, or a better eater, better sleeper, if I had been able to breastfeed? I know all of those things are silly. Things have worked out fine, and he is a smart, healthy little boy. Fed is always best.

14. What makes you a strong mom?
Moms are superheroes. I am convinced of it. We just power through, no matter what. No matter how tired, or sick, or overwhelmed... we just do it. It's totally a superpower. 
I think what makes me a strong Mom is just that- knowing that no matter what, I will do what is best for my child. His needs always come first. His health, happiness, and well-being is my #1 priority. I want him to be a well-rounded and engaged individual. I want him to contribute to society, be happy, and strong. That is what keeps me going and inspires me to be my best.
15. Anything else you want to add?
I am so thankful for this group and all of you wonderful Mommies. The insight, recommendations, and wisdom I have picked up over the last 2+ years is tremendous. I love that everyone is caring and supportive, and also up to offering alternatives. It really does take a village and I am so thankful to be a part of it.

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