Bethany and I have known each other since high school, and we no shame can sing every word of Newsies together and are proud of it. Bethany is one of those friends it may be a long time since we’ve talked, but we can pick up like no time has past. I know you are going to be encouraged by her story and heart for motherhood today and I’m so thankful to have her as a guest on Spoonful of Jordan!
Tell us about your family.
I’m Bethany! I’m 32 and I work full-time from home in Sales & Marketing for a retail technology company. I’m married to my junior high sweetheart, Nate, who is also 32 and an airline pilot. We have two kids, Hallie, who is 4, and Ethan, who is 2.5, and we have one on the way that is due in September! We live in Coppell, TX and love our community here.
What was your journey to motherhood like?
My journey to motherhood was nothing like what I expected (I’m sure lots of moms feel the same way). We married young and enjoyed 6 years just the two of us, so when we felt like we were ready for a family, we assumed we would get pregnant easily and right away. However, the Lord had different plans for us.
After trying to conceive for over a year, we went to a Reproductive Endocrinologist who confirmed that we both had infertility diagnoses. We were crushed, and went through a challenging season of one disappointment after the next. We were so grateful for those who bolstered us emotionally during that time, and the Lord graciously gave us our first child, a daughter, after our second IUI (intrauterine insemination) attempt.
I still carry some regret for how much bitterness I let seep into my heart during that season, especially as I have watched other friends and loved ones navigate infertility since then. But God is gracious to have forgiven me and drawn me so close to him during that time and in the subsequent rounds of infertility treatments we have done in order to conceive our son and this new baby.
How did you feel when you found out you were pregnant (1st, 2nd, and 3rd time)?
Overjoyed! Obviously. But also, relieved. Each time. For couples facing infertility, it can be a relief to finally get that positive pregnancy test and be encouraged that hopefully the trying, the poking and prodding, the tests and procedures could possibly be behind you.
What was the transition into motherhood like for you?
HARD. Our daughter Hallie spent the first week of her life in the NICU for low-blood sugar, another blow to my expectations that we would have this magical post-partum hospital stay and a perfectly healthy baby. The first night we had to go home without her was soul-crushing. However, God really changed our perspective in that experience and gave us a heart for other NICU families as we know that a week is so short compared to many others.
Once we got her home, it really hit the fan for us. I’m very Type A as is my husband so having this little person we couldn’t control was a real challenge for us both in the early months. Breastfeeding was difficult (and that’s putting it nicely) and who really enjoys going on so little sleep? No one does. That’s who.
Some of the best advice I received in those early weeks/months was that there are so many things to stress over with a new baby. Should we breastfeed or bottle feed? Pump exclusively or formula? Sleep train or let baby determine their schedule? Baby-led weaning or pureed baby food? Pacifier or no? Swaddle or no? Organic or not? It’s enough to make a person go crazy! My friend said, “Pick one cause to champion that is important to you and that can work for your baby, and figure the rest out as you go.” Soothing words to a control-freak like myself! We picked our “one thing” and started giving ourselves a lot more freedom in the other areas which helped us transition a little more smoothly from that point on.
What was the transition from 1-2 like (and share anything you’re feeling about transitioning a third time)?
HARD. Can I say that twice?! Haha! My first two kids are 22 months apart so at times I felt like I was drowning with two babies under the age of 2. I also changed jobs shortly after Hallie was born, and while I was now working from home, I didn’t get any kind of paid maternity leave so I was back working after about a week.
I am feeling a little apprehensive about moving from man-to-man to zone defense in the fall, but we have been so fortunate to have had so many friends and family members who step up and help us during these seasons.
How do you balance work and mom life? What does it look like when Nate is traveling?
I’m really fortunate to work for a company that allows me to have a flexible work schedule. While I work full-time, they allow me to complete those hours whenever and however I can. For me, this is a combination of working in the office while my kids are at preschool 3 days a week, when my husband is home on a weekday to stay home with them, or working when my kids are sleeping and/or otherwise occupied with an activity or movie.
My husband Nate is typically gone 4-5 days and then home for 3-4 days. The upside is that when he’s home, he’s all-in. He’s here all day and doesn’t need me at all in order to take over care of the kids. He is the perfect parenting teammate. The downside is that when he is gone, it all falls to me.
So I’m pretty tired a lot! There isn’t an option to sleep when the kids sleep during the day, because I’m working. But that’s ok! I cope by 1) being really cognizant of my schedule and prioritizing my time, 2) making sure my kids get to bed early enough so I have some of the night left to myself to work/relax before I go to sleep 3) waking up before my kids if possible to spend time praying and reading my Bible and 4) treating myself, which I’ll get into more below.
What are things you are doing now in motherhood that you said you never would?
How do I not laugh when answering this question? SO MANY SILLY THINGS. Just a few examples:
- I let my daughter pick out her own clothes and wear princess costumes wherever she wants.
- I let my kids eat waffles or pizza or chicken nuggets day after day if that’s the only thing they will eat.
- I don’t make them finish their entire plate of food, instead I just ask them to try a bite of each thing.
- I let my kids eat sugar way too late into the evening.
- I give them my iPhone at a restaurant.
I could go on and on. I’m finding that I’m letting go more. It’s just too much to try to maintain a massive list of “do’s and don’ts” plus how miserable!? For them, for me. Life’s too short. I cut myself tons of slack when I realize I’m focusing too much on things that don’t REALLY matter in the long run.
How have your decisions changed in different seasons with your family? What are some things you take into consideration?
We take into consideration our kids needs based on what season we are in. Kids are adaptable, yes, but they also do a great job of giving us signals when they need something intangible. Some seasons we are in survival mode, so we are hunkered down at home. Some seasons we have the freedom to get out a lot more, travel even. We watch for context clues and try to keep our plans and decisions in tune with their/our family needs.
What are some of your family’s core values? How do you keep them a priority?
Oh goodness, sure, we have our hopes and prayers for our family, but really we are just trying to raise kind people. Yes, we want them to obey and listen to us, maybe even learn how to clean up after themselves and have good manners, but above all else, we are hoping to instill and model a loving and kind attitude towards others. We have a sign in our living room that says “Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.” which is from Micah 6:8. It’s a great reminder for me and Nate as much as it is for the kids!
What are some ways that you and Nate fight for your marriage?
Nate and I have some really great mentors who always remind us “You were here first. You and your spouse are Home Team.” We are doing our best to not raise our children in a child-centric home. I default to Nate and he defaults to me. We also work hard to have open lines of communication with one another, especially with Nate traveling so much.
Nate and I are both extroverts so we have to make an effort to prioritize time together and as a family or else we find ourselves overly scheduled with other social activities. We try to get 1 or 2 date nights in each month, and we save at least one night each stretch of time that he is home to stay in and have family time.
We have a shared family calendar on our phones that keeps us on the same page, and we often don’t let conflict go unresolved for very long. We get things out in the open and work through them, especially since we have such limited time at home together to talk in person.
What are some things you do for your own mental health?
I feel very passionately about this! My motto is “Treat yo’self!” I cook myself a ribeye steak and sweet potato once a week that I eat in bed while watching Grey’s Anatomy or This is Us. I hire a babysitter so I can go work out or get a pedicure or go to a movie with a girlfriend and then, this part is important, I don’t feel bad about any of it! I have zero guilt about taking care of myself. As moms, we work SO hard to hold so many things together and I think it’s really important to not only take care of ourselves but for our kids to see us prioritizing ourselves.
Also, our husbands are completely capable of taking the reins in order to get a girl’s trip in. Nothing is more refreshing to me than a few days away without anyone asking anything of me. I know this is hard for some women, but I promise the more you do it, the easier it gets! 😉
What is the biggest thing you have learned as a mom?
Grace!!! Grace for my kids, grace for my husband, grace for myself, grace for other moms I may have judged in the past before I became a mom myself. No one has this thing figured out. We are all just doing the best as we go along.
What does motherhood mean to you?
Motherhood requires selflessness and sacrifice, but it also inspires me to be a better version of myself. God has taught me so much about myself and about Him through motherhood, I’m grateful He chose me to be mom to these littles and I never want to take for granted the amazing privilege I have in this role. He is continually sanctifying me through motherhood, but He is also showing me how much He delights in me with the kids he gave me. Motherhood is hard, but it is also such a joy. It’s such a strange combination of being so completely spent but also not wanting it any other way.