Motherhood by Numbers
Motherhood by Numbers is a series by Liveli Planner about what growing your family actually looks like. We love to be excited for the arrival of a new baby but we rarely talk about what the journey of actually getting to that point looks like – starting or growing your family and all that it entails for women, from the mental to the emotional to the physical.
This series takes a close look at that process with three women, each at a different stage of growing their family, from their first to their third child. We chat with them during their pregnancy and again six months after delivery to get a full picture of the process. We hope that our candid conversations with them will shine a light on what starting and growing a family is like and how our current reality of the Covid-19 pandemic has changed that.
Preparing for Your Second Child with Kayla Steinly
By Sarah Gould-Stotts
Mother-To-Be: Kayla Steinly
Kayla is a people person. Not the kind who has to be surrounded by other people all the time or derives her energy from being in a big crowd but the kind of “people person” who gives her whole self to caring for others. Despite being quiet and a little shy by nature, Kayla makes her living taking care of people as a pharmacist and crafts her life’s focus around loving and caring for her family, including her husband, Andrew, and son, Rhett, and her parents, the people she describes as “her reason for being.” Kayla loves big and hard and gives all that she can to her family. Since having her first baby, Kayla’s conviction is to be remembered as a momma who happened to be a pharmacist, rather than a pharmacist who happened to have kids. This conviction has only grown stronger as she prepares for the arrival of her second child this summer.
Kayla’s nature is to be a perfectionist and she describes herself as a “type AAA” person who can be high strung when it comes to managing her career and family. She has long combated anxiety which has become more of a struggle since losing her little brother, Jay, in 2015. Having endured the profound pain of losing her sibling, Kayla is more aware than most that not a single day can be taken for granted and that loving and caring for her family is and always will be the most important thing she does.
The birth of Kayla’s first child came during a pretty normal time – no global pandemic prevented her from having a baby shower, from being surrounded by loved ones at the hospital, or sharing the joys of her newborn with her friends and relatives. When she became pregnant with her second child, she had no idea what the reality would be when she would welcome her baby girl into the world. Preparing for a second child already comes with its own set of considerations, stresses, to-do’s, and joys but compound that with a global pandemic and navigating the start of this new chapter looks and feels a lot different than Kayla ever imagined. We sat down with Kayla to learn from her experience of deciding to grow her family of 3 to a family of 4, and how that has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
First question, as a mother of one, what do you love most about motherhood?
I guess I’ll go with the obvious answer – my baby. Something definitely changes in you when you see your baby for the first time and it feels like your heart might explode because you love them so much. I remember holding Rhett when he was maybe 2 weeks old and just looking at him and crying literally because I loved him so much and I didn’t know how to handle that kind of love (Thanks, postpartum hormones“). Hearing “I love you more, momma” melts my heart. Rhett and I have a “fight” every night about who loves who more. “No, you! No, you!”
What most excites you about growing your family?
Seeing our baby and watching her grow and develop into her own little person. I love seeing the things Rhett enjoys, is good at, etc and can’t wait to see the person that our daughter will become. I am also excited to see the relationship between big brother and little sister. I pray daily that they are close like Jay and I were.
What about motherhood challenges you the most?
My own anxiety is probably the most challenging part about motherhood to me. After losing my brother in January of 2015, we got pregnant for the first time in August of that same year. Unfortunately, we lost that first pregnancy in October 2015 at around 7 weeks. I felt like I was “doomed” to have bad things happen to me and I felt like I would never see good things happen again in my life. It was like something changed in my mind at that point. It took us another year to get pregnant again which was yet another test of faith. I worried that I would never get that chance again. Looking back, Rhett came along at the most perfect time and it all fell into God’s plan perfectly. It was just very hard to endure the time we spent grieving and waiting.
What prompted you to decide to have another baby? Was having another child something you always planned to do or something you decided after you had your first child?
My husband and I have always wanted 3 kids. We talked about that before we were ever married. I specifically remember one Saturday in college and we went on a walk for a date. We went to college in a very small town so it was either that or yet another Walmart date. We walked for probably 3 hours and just dreamed for the first time out loud with each other of what we wanted for our future together. He is one of 3 and I am one of 2 children. Growing up, my brother and I were always close and as young adults, he was one of my best friends. I am blessed to say I genuinely “liked” my brother as a person, not just loved him because he was my brother and I had to. After we lost Jay, I felt the extreme weight of being alone as the only surviving child of my parents. It’s extremely lonely and I never wanted my children to be alone like how I now felt. I wanted them to have another person, a partner in crime, to do life with. After having Rhett, that desire for him to have a sibling only got stronger. I worried it would be difficult to get pregnant again, but God had other plans and our second pregnancy came along without any trouble.
For parents considering growing their family, what would you encourage them to think about when weighting the decision?
Definitely search and evaluate your own mind to make sure that you can mentally handle another addition. Your mental health is extremely important. Being a mommy is the most wonderful blessing but it can be extremely frustrating and scary. Make sure that your relationship with your partner is healthy and strong as well. Being on the same page with them is a must. Obviously, make sure you can handle the potential addition financially as well.
What concerns, if any did you have about getting pregnant again?
I honestly felt like crap during my first pregnancy with Rhett. I was a retail pharmacist and stood for 10 hours a day. I was swollen and quite pissy by the end of my pregnancy and I worried about having the same experience with number 2. I worried that I would feel physically bad yet again which would make me not be as involved with Rhett as I was used to being. Luckily my pregnancies have been night and day different. I have felt wonderful through my second pregnancy and I have been able to sit on the floor criss-cross-applesauce style with Rhett saying our nightly prayers in my last trimester.
What has been easier or more difficult about your 2nd pregnancy?
Every part of my pregnancy was different physically, thank God. I felt much better this time. No swelling at all, which was amazing after gaining so much water weight the first time and creating my own gravitational pull.
As far as more difficult, my anxiety has been worse this time around due to the Covid pandemic.
How have you prepared your family for another baby?
We talked to Rhett about his baby sister all the time. He gave her kisses while she was in my tummy and we prayed for her every night together.
How have you prepared yourself for another baby?
Lots of prayer. Lots of leaning on my support people- my husband and my parents.
What advice do you have for moms or parents who are considering having another child?
Make sure you have support! It’s a hard journey and it’s true- raising children takes a village! Find your people, love them, and let them love you and your precious babies!
Being pregnant during a global pandemic is definitely a unique experience, to put it lightly. How has the outbreak of Covid-19 impacted your pregnancy?
Ugh… it’s sucks. I changed jobs prior to getting pregnant with my daughter and I am now a hospital pharmacist. That was an incredible blessing. My boss saw the urgency of my situation and petitioned for me to work remotely from home for the remainder of my pregnancy. The pandemic definitely made my anxiety exponentially worse. It also felt like I was robbed of several experiences during my pregnancy- my shower, having my husband at our prenatal appointments, seeing my family, having family at the hospital for delivery, and even now, most of my family hasn’t met Emery.
What ways are you finding to cope with social distancing/quarantine and maintain a healthy mind and body during this time?
Talk to your people! FaceTime is a huge blessing and we do a LOT of FaceTiming! Also, if you need professional help, don’t feel ashamed to ask for it. We are living through unprecedented times and you’ve already got the anxiety of simply being pregnant and now add in a global pandemic! Give yourself grace. Do the best you can. One day, one hour, one minute at a time. I also feel better when I can get outside. In these last few weeks of my pregnancy, Rhett and I have been going for mommy-son walks. We hold hands, walk in our neighborhood, talk about what we saw, and I am secretly hoping it will get our baby girl to come faster.
How are you staying sane at home with your son? How have you balanced your work obligations with your childcare obligations?
It is extremely difficult to work and have an almost 3 year old at home with me. My job is stressful in that I make life-death decisions for my patients so when my husband was furloughed, it was a bit of a blessing because it took a load off of me. Eventually I had to step out in faith and allow Rhett to go back to staying with parents during the day (they kept him every day before all this but out of fear, I began keeping him home with me) so that I could work.
As a perfectionist, Kayla has put a lot of thought and intention into preparing for this new chapter and despite the challenges this current reality has thrown at her, she is staying focused on what matters most to her: family. When I asked Kayla what advice she has for other women who are pregnant right now, she said:
Find support! Talk to other mommas! Just as you need to be heard, loved, and supported, so do they! Help each other!
Kayla, like many of us, is learning to accept that there is little we can control outside of ourselves. We can control how we approach things and what we prioritize, but we can’t always plan the options we’re given. When it comes to motherhood— planning for certain outcomes is basically impossible. All you can plan for is how you adapt to those outcomes, whatever they may be.
We’ll check back with Kayla in the coming months, after her delivery, to see how her thought processes and feelings have changed and how she is doing as a mom of two. Make sure to follow Liveli Planner on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn to keep up with her story.
What questions or advice do you have for Kayla? Share in the comments section below.
Motherhood by Numbers is brought to you by Liveli Planner. At Liveli Planner, we know motherhood is more than what we see on Instagram and Pinterest. We believe open and honest conversations about the realities of becoming and being a mom are important steps in building community, support, and understanding. Liveli Planner was built with moms in mind and we strive to empower all women, at every point in their lives, to make the most of their time so they can achieve their goals, build deeper relationships, and lead healthy and happy lives.