Hello friends! I’m back with the next Inspiring Women interview and am so happy to share it today. Sometime last year I met Audrey Bodisco via Instagram and we’ve been connected ever since. What I love about her posts is that she shares all of her life as a new mama and artist, not just the parts that look good on social media. When you read about her experiences and life you feel like you’re really getting a glimpse into her world and feels authentic and totally her. As a woman who tries to share honestly and create a level of intimacy in our virtual world, I immediately felt a kinship with Audrey and wanted to learn more of her story.
In addition to being a mama and wife, Audrey is a talented artist. She creates quiet, minimalist watercolor paintings that evoke the same lightness and simplicity I get from her interior photographs. Today we dive deep into the practice of surrender, the importance of connecting to nature and trusting your intuition as a mama.
When did you know you wanted to be a Mom?
It took me a long time to commit to the idea of having a child. It happened gradually. I started noticing mothers and their children more and more and began to feel the desire to have a family of my own. But it took until I was about 35/36 years old. After an awkward conversation with my husband, who was understandably surprised by my sudden change of heart, we stewed on the idea for a bit and then it was like, ‘ok, let’s do this.’
Share three of your favorite and most challenging aspects of Motherhood thus far.
1. Getting over the whole birthing thing was a big challenge and a great introduction into the selflessness of motherhood. To be specific, I had a natural birth plan and that went out the window when we learned River was both breech and had IUGR. I was going to have to deliver him early, either by being induced if the doctors could externally flip him or by c-section if the procedure failed. I was really upset about that and also terrified to go under the knife. Many people advised me that as time passed, the way in which River came into this world would not matter to me once I held him in my arms. They were right. And I learned that a mother doesn’t always get to do what she wants. It’s all about River now and I’m totally ok with that.
2. Breastfeeding has been a continuing challenge to me. I thought it would come so naturally! But premature infants can have more difficulty latching due to their small mouths (plus River had a severe tongue-tie) and I ended up with mastitis and now thrush! We’ve been through the wringer, he and I, but the deepest bonds I’ve made with River have been while breastfeeding. It’s such a powerful and heart-exploding experience for a mother.
3. The realization that I did, indeed have what it takes to be a mother.
Who are the women in your life that you look up to?
This is a really interesting question for me. The women in my family never got along and have modeled some very toxic behavior. It’s really sad. I myself have had a complicated and estranged relationship with my own mother. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was 15 years old. The years prior to her diagnosis were honestly terrifying for me. I didn’t have much faith in the feminine. Nowadays I do. I look up to all mothers – we have the hardest job.
What motivates you to create?
A desire to communicate and connect with others. To put what’s in my heart to paper and release it into the world. It’s very cathartic for me.
Is connecting to nature something that you value?
Very much so. I’ve always had a love and respect for nature and animals. These were values my father encouraged in my older brother and I as children. As an adult I became an avid rock climber, spending weekends and all vacations climbing all over North America and Europe. Climbing and camping, getting dirty and sun-soaked – those were some of the best years of my life.
How do you establish harmony within your new family?
I’m still struggling with that. Currently it’s feeling overwhelming – it’s hard to be the best mother and wife you can be when you’re up all night and have such little time to yourself throughout the day.
Have you ever struggled with self care in your life? How did you navigate that?
I have. I’ve struggled with my perception of body image pretty much my entire life. It took me getting pregnant to start REALLY taking care of myself, to be more gentle on myself. Before my pregnancy I would work out and limit food intake to an unhealthy level. And I still was never happy with how I looked.
During my pregnancy I continued to exercise, maybe more than I should have, but I scaled things way, way back. I focused more on keeping my heart and lungs strong, my muscles and connective tissues limber, and my body nourished. I took the responsibility of pregnancy really seriously by eating only organic foods and I stuck to my plant-based diet the whole way through, limiting sugar and any processed or refined foods.
Post baby I’ve wrestled a bit with the extra ‘softness’ of my body, but I recognize the profound experience of giving birth and breastfeeding outweigh any silly expectations or aspirations I might have for the way my body looks.
What advice would you give to new Mamas?
It can’t be said enough: follow your instincts above all else! The doctors, your family and friends, other mothers, and Google don’t know you and your baby as intimately and deeply as you.
Oh, and consider encapsulating your placenta. The benefits far outweigh any of the ick factor. I personally feel it aided in my quick recovery from my c-section, and helped me keep my sanity in those exhausting first few weeks of motherhood.
What are you most grateful for?
My husband. He’s my rock.