Shawn Johnson Gets Real on How Motherhood Has Changed Her

“I’ve just been humbled by having to have patience and grace and forgiveness with myself that things are different than I expected.”
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By Nehal Aggarwal, Editor
Published December 20, 2019

Becoming a mom is one of the biggest life changes a woman can go through. While the transition is a beautiful one, it can also be emotional and unlock spaces within ourselves we didn’t know existed. New mom Shawn Johnson is having a similar experience as she adjusts to life with her newborn daughter, Drew.

While she’s still discovering new aspects of parents, one of the biggest lessons the Olympic gold medalist has learned since becoming a mom, she tells The Bump, is “Nothing goes to plan.” She continues, “I feel like there’s a million things you learn. You learn that parenting is not easy. I felt like going into delivery and even having a baby I had so many plans of how things were going to go and what I was going to do and then you have a kid and the kid defines a lot of that. I guess I’ve just been humbled by having to have patience and grace and forgiveness with myself that things are different than I expected.”

Drew—who happens to be one of the most Googled babies of the past year—arrived a little over six weeks ago, but the delivery was anything but easy. Johnson actually spent 22 hours in labor before giving birth to her daughter via c-section.

Another challenge Johnson’s faced as a mom? Breastfeeding. While breastfeeding can be beneficial for babies, it can, through no fault of their own, be a tough hurdle to overcome for some moms. Johnson explains her daughter breasted for a week before deciding she was done with it. Luckily, there’s one product that’s made life a lot easier. “Breastfeeding was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life and the most frustrating,” Johnson tells The Bump. “My baby girl just didn’t want to breastfeed…Their bottles actually became her go to. I tried every brand out there and the only one she wanted was the Avent Natural bottle.” (Fun fact, we’ve previously found the product to be the best overall bottle for baby.)

Though Johnson is learning motherhood is a journey full of surprises, she’s being patient with herself, particularly when it comes to accepting her postpartum body—something she herself was surprised by. “When I became pregnant, something kind of switched in me. I didn’t really see it as my body anymore, I saw it as my kid’s body and what they needed,” she tells The Bump. “Every time my body would change I would be like okay, this is what they need at the moment and same with postpartum. I know it’s a little bit different, but since I am pumping for her and my body is still kind of hers, I just really don’t care, which I think is a beautiful thing. I have, in the past, cared way way way too much and [this] is just a refreshing feeling.”

Looking ahead, Johnson cannot wait to share her favorite holiday traditions with Drew. In fact, her husband, Andrew East, is carrying on a Christmas tradition, Johnson’s dad did for her while she was growing up. “[He’s] going to put Reindeer tracks on the roof of the house. That’s actually something my dad did for me and now looking back as a parent I’m like that is impressive,” she exclaims, adding, “We’ve been really cheesy parents already because we’ve gone to every single Christmas light show just so she can see the Christmas lights—and she’s not even 6 weeks…We’re excited to start spending Christmases with our daughter and planning out traditions. Starting this year, something that we really want is every Christmas is to wake up at our house on Christmas morning so she can have that tradition throughout her life…I think it’ll just be a lot of very traditional things that, now that [we’re] parents, [we] just see as such beautiful moments with [our] family.”

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