I’ve posted about Aly a few times on the blog, but this week I wanted to sit down and talk with her about her most recent role as a new mom! Aly is one of those friends who I often find myself coming to for advice because it feels like she has already been there and can always point me in the right direction. In that sense I guess to me she has felt like a mama for a long time, this just makes it official. She has kind of paved the way and experienced many firsts for our group of friends— first to be engaged, first to marry, and now, first to have kids. She’s a rockstar and always has been since the day we met Freshman year in college (ahem, 11 years ago). She knows who she is and what she likes and she doesn’t take a lot of smack. She’s a good best friend to have and I’m so excited for her and her growing family! Her beautiful daughter, Juniper James Wilcox, was born just six weeks ago, so I am super appreciative of her taking time out of her busy schedule to chat with me about what life has been like since then...
How would you describe the past six weeks and your experience becoming a new mom?
It’s pretty incredible. It’s hard to narrow things down to words. It’s amazing to have this little person that we love so much, you know? You can't prepare yourself for that feeling, because you just don’t know that feeling until it happens. So I was excited to learn what that was like. And that love has been growing everyday! I don’t think I had that thing in the hospital bed where I was like, “Oh my god, I’m overwhelmed with the most incredible love I’ve ever felt in my life” the moment she popped out of me only because it’s such an overwhelming experience as it is! I was definitely fascinated and overjoyed, but there was so much going on I don’t think I had time to have that feeling. Being home with Juniper now, getting to see her little personality already has been really wonderful. The love just gets bigger everyday. Then there’s seeing my husband, Stuart, with her, that’s a whole new level for our relationship. I’d seen what a great dog Dad he was before. He’s got such unconditional love and an incredible amount of selflessness. He’ll always put their needs before his needs, 100% of the time. And now I get to see him do that with Juniper. I love that he wants to be so involved. He’s somebody who I don’t even have to ask for help. He wants to help, and really it’s not like he’s even helping, he just wants to be a father. It’s a different way of falling in love with him again and I think he would probably say the same thing about me. If you really truly love somebody, you want to see them succeed, and when you see that happening and it’s benefitting your little family, that’s pretty incredible.
What were your expectations going into motherhood and has that changed since becoming a mother?
I really tried not to have a lot of expectations. I know that sounds like a cop out, but I feel like having expectations would put a lot of pressure on me, my husband and the baby! Even in six short weeks I have learned that life with a baby is all about the unpredictable!
How do you make time for yourself? What are your favorite ways to unwind?
I take a shower everyday. Everyday. And actually, that’s more than I would shower before becoming a mom! It’s just a nice way for me to unwind. I love water so much that I really enjoy those 5 to 10 min that I can take and be by myself. And then walking. My neighborhood is awesome, and we’ve organized a group for new parents to get together with their babies, We’ve gone to the Botanic Gardens and last week we just walked around the park together. I’m so thankful for this little community!
What is the best advice you’ve received so far? Do you have a motherhood mantra?
The best advice I’ve gotten? Don’t listen to anyone’s advice! (Laughs). Do what’s right for you and your child. You can take it all, but then filter it. Not everything is going to work the same for every baby. You are going to figure it out on your own. For me, honestly, going through it is how I learn. Isn’t that how we learn so much in life? I know sometimes that’s the hard way, but so much of the time that’s how I figure out what works for me. So, maybe my advice is be patient with yourself and take the time to figure out what does work, for you, for your kid, for your family.
And my mantra? Trust yourself. Trust your instincts. Trust your baby.
Developing confidence in yourself is absolutely necessary. At first, you are like “I don’t know how to…fill in the blank" and you know, you just have to try it! Confidence is only possible if you try to experience new things.
What is the biggest surprise to you about having a child?
She sleeps more than I thought she would! (Laughs). But truly, almost everything is a surprise. I’m the kind of person that does not want to read the inside cover of a book. I don’t want to watch the trailer when I go see a movie. I just want to experience it fresh. Maybe that’s a horrible analogy, but I’m just trying to love it as it’s happening. I don’t want to say that I went into this unprepared, because I certainly haven’t— I read about parenting and babies and developmental stages all the time, but when it comes down to it, I don’t expect to follow any of those guidelines to a T. We are all just unique human beings and we are going to do things at our own pace and differently than other people. I’m just focusing on enjoying my unique experience.
What excites you about motherhood?
Watching her grow and change. Now, every time I see other children at different life stages, I think about her being that age, and I’m excited for her to go through all that and be there for it. It’s exciting to watch her change and grow and think about what she’ll be like in the future. Of course, I am trying to enjoy everything in the present, but you can’t help but wonder.
What scares you?
Just making the wrong decision. I want to do the best you can. I am always going to try my best, but it’s just scary to think about all the different decisions that have to be made and trying to get her on the best path. There are so many options these days, that there is a lot to consider. Should she go to a charter school? Or home school? Or should she go to the public school that’s a little bit rough, because that’s what I did and it worked out well for me. With so many different decisions, it’s hard to know what’s going to be best for her, and for us! You really have to know yourself and your partner, and base it on that.
What is the best part?
Just getting to spend time with her-- this lovely little snuggle bug. Giving her affection, and giving her what she needs, and spending time together as a family. Experiencing all this new love together. Seeing her smile.
Have you developed any rituals/routines?
Well, there are things that we do for her everyday to show her affection and love. Stuart is really cute with her and you can see the differences between the ways we interact with her. I think it’s really important for people to know that the way that you do something is not going to be the way that someone else does it and you really have to let them do their own thing because that has a different benefit for her. Like if we both parented her exactly the same what’s the point in having two parents, right? Right now it seems like I’m the one who tries to be calming and gentle and use a soothing voice, whereas Stuart wants to excite her, and distract her, and bounce her around to the point where I’m like “oookay, that’s a lot of bouncing!" but she totally loves it! You can tell that she really enjoys her time with her dad and he’s able to settle her down with his own tricks and ways, and same with her mom. It’s just different. I also have been narrating everything I do. I’ve taken Juni on a tour of the house everyday. At this early stage, you just want to be talking to them a lot and when there is nobody else here I don’t know what to talk about, so I’ll introduce her to everything, “this is your dog” and explain, "he’s such a curly boy and he has soft fur” and “this is a mirror and this is your face” so we just do a lot of talking about everything that’s around. And we get in the tub almost every night together, which is really nice. She enjoys it a lot and she always sleeps better when she’s taken a bath with mama. She just lays on my chest and I pour water over her with a little cup. Last night she nursed in there too… it was like she was at the spa!
What would you tell anyone starting out on this journey as a new mom?
This is maybe obvious, but the transition is not gradual. One day you don’t have a baby and the next day you do! And now you have a child for the rest of your life, which is kind of a crazy thing to try to wrap your brain around. Of course it’s going to be hard at times, but it’s amazing! I think it's important to stop and just enjoy the experience. And it’s such a wonderful experience. I don’t know what else I would rather be doing at this period of my life, honestly. I’m really grateful to be where I am.