Tell us a little about yourself. 

I'm a 31 year old Mom of three, all under four! I'm also an illustrator, runner, creative, etc. Basically, I love to stay busy. My oldest also has Autism so my blog is primarily about Autism Awareness.

You can follow Jessie on Instagram at @momma_lips and @mommalipsdraws or check out her blog at www.mommalipsherself.com.

What brought you to where you are now? Bring us along from the beginning.

I honestly have no idea where to begin with this haha. I started blogging when I was pregnant with my oldest, Jackson. I couldn't find any other Black women bloggers talking about their pregnancies so I made the decision that I'd become what I was looking for! In the process, I learned I wasn't the kind of blogger that I initially set out to be but more educational. Along that process, I had two other kids, and Jackson was diagnosed with Autism right before he turned two.

While Matt and I educated ourselves on everything Autism, I blogged about it because in order for me to talk to other people about it, I felt I need to be well versed in the topic myself. Now, I talk to other parents who are just starting their journey and offer them words of advice and encouragement. We've been on our journey for nearly two years and although we aren't experts, it's nice to be there for those when we didn't really have many to help us.

Tell us about your partner. What made you want to start or grow a family with them?

Matt and I have been together for 7 years. He's a nuclear engineer and very intelligent. We both ran cross country in high school and are still very athletic now. He is incredibly supportive of my artsy side because it balances his logical side.

We actually decided to purposefully having kids after my miscarriage. I wanted kids soon after we got married in 2014 but he wanted to wait until we were 30. That wasn't my plan, so I stopped taking my birth control and ended up getting pregnant! It was a surprise to him, and he was honestly very nervous.

When I lost the baby very early into the pregnancy, he had already imagined himself as a Dad and was heartbroken. Then in early 2016, I got pregnant again with Jackson! While I was pregnant, we decided we would continue having kids as long as he was in the Navy and as quickly as my body would allow (I breastfed all my kids and that served as my natural birth control. I quickly learned my second cycle after ending breastfeeding, I would get pregnant).

Let me be clear, this was just as much my decision as much as it was Matt's. He understands it's MY body going through this and it's MY career that is put on hold with each one. I decided I'd be in the weeds for a few years with these kids back to back then hit the ground running once they're toddlers. With this mindset, this is how we have three kids under under...hahaha.

Matt is an only child while I have one younger sister. She's my best friend so I knew I would be having multiple kids. Matt originally wanted four or five BUT wanted to start at 30. I told him "I'll have three. I don't know who's having your other kids, but it's not me!" Three is my biological number for kids. The door is always open to foster/adopt down the line but we'll decide that later.

What was happening in your life when you decided to start your family?

Matt and I were living our best kidless lives on the other side of the country. Paddleboarding all day, partying, enjoying each other, etc. Then BOOM—pregnant...hahaha.

What was your journey to parenthood like? 

It was exciting but lots of 'OH SHIT' moments. We started with a miscarriage, but all my pregnancies/births have been great! Jackson's Autism diagnosis threw our parenting for a loop because everything we had read about parenting was thrown out the window. Especially with him being our first, we were essentially clueless. Then our last child being a girl, I've had to face a lot of personal grieving from being a Motherless Daughter myself, so my current state is constantly changing.

How did you care for yourself while trying to conceive?

I didn't stress it because I knew that stressing wouldn't help. I knew I could get pregnant from the miscarriage so I just waited for it to happen. I didn't change any of my routines or anything because I knew if I thought about it too much, I would spiral.

How did you care for your body while pregnant?

I continue loving my life. Even though my body is creating a miracle, that doesn't mean I'm completely fragile. I still worked out (lifted with Jackson and ran with Miles and Simone). My eating has never been the healthiest so I was more mindful of that, but other than that, it was your regularly scheduled program.

What experiences shaped your understanding of conception and pregnancy?

My miscarriage. I'm aware of how incredibly difficult it is for some, and I'm even more so aware of how heartbreaking it is to lose a pregnancy. Because I have friends who have been TTC for years and haven't been blessed, I do not complain about pregnancy inconveniences. Although I never experienced morning sickness, the pains, heartburn, etc—I know so many that would LOVE to have these inconveniences. This miracle isn't something everyone gets to experience so I refuse to complain. I'm well aware of my blessing(s).

Tell us how you found out you were pregnant. We'd love details!

With each one, I had a weird, inexplainable gut feeling. I actually don't remember the details of each one. I do remember that I tried to record Matt's reaction of Jackson's pregnancy, and that was a fail because Matt doesn't show emotion (lol!).

With Miles, I took a test while Matt was working that night, and we already had plans to go to the zoo the next day. I decided I'd plan to have someone take a picture of us while I gave him the test. Again, a fail because Matt doesn't show emotion, and I was shaking uncontrollably. And to be honest, I don't remember finding out that I was pregnant with Simone...SO many events have happened and my brain is a giant fog.

What have you learned as a result of trying to get pregnant and/or being pregnant? 

That I can't force it. Pregnancies happen and miscarriages happen. For me, trying to control everything would have been my downfall and I knew that going into it. My anxiety is terrible so embracing that "out of sight, out of mind" mindset was my bread and butter.

What's your wish for women who are trying to conceive?

Be open to options and have grace with yourself.

Anything else you'd like to share about your journey to parenthood? 

Just because something didn't go according to plan doesn't mean it's wrong. Get a new manual and keep going.