Originally featured on Charleston Moms Blog:
The journey to motherhood, and through motherhood, looks different for everyone. Struggles with fertility, health issues, timing, age…these are just some of the things that our fellow Charleston Moms Blog writers have dealt with, and are sharing in their raw and personal stories through this series, How I Became A Mother. We hope that you enjoy them and above all, know that you are not alone in this journey!
Motherhood is the ultimate surrender. From your pre-pregnancy journey, to the actual pregnancy, to a woman’s birth as a mother–you have to give up control and soften to make space for what the experience will be, instead of what you want it to be.
My journey officially began in January of 2014, and I like to describe the experience as magical and blissfully naive. What was interesting about my motherhood journey is that it started the exact same time that my journey into the world of Montessori began. I remember on New Year’s Eve of 2014 saying “this year I want to become a Montessori teacher and have a baby”. Three weeks later, I was interviewing for a position in Charleston County’s growing adolescent Montessori program, and I found out that I was pregnant.
My Montessori training was to take place in Houston, TX, which brought up a lot of reservations. Could I really embark on a six week intensive training out of state while six months pregnant? Despite my reservations, the training was a monumental experience–meeting like-minded people, learning about the Montessori philosophy and methodology, having some time to reflect and be away from “home”–it was all very sacred. Being pregnant only compounded that experience. It felt really special. People were extra kind and all of the learning that I was doing felt applicable to my own journey into motherhood. My cohort members even hosted a Blessing Way celebration for me, which was really profound. My baby and I were surrounded by so much love and wisdom. Beyond a typical baby shower, my cohort members gave me an amazing gift; they celebrated MY BIRTH as a mother.
That was only one part of the magical bliss that I experienced during my first pregnancy. A self-proclaimed nerd, I soaked up all of the new information I was learning about pregnancy and labor. I watched all the documentaries, read all of the books, took a Hypnobirthing class. I was fascinated. I have even since realized that I want to become a Doula (a goal that I hope to make a reality later this year). My husband and I made the conscious choice to use the Charleston Birth Place and strive for a natural, water birth.
Because of how magical my life had seemed up to this point, it didn’t even enter my mind that things would not go as planned. Clearly I was going to have that amazing birth story and “breathe the baby down” as I had learned in Hypnobirthing class. And this is where the sacredness of my first surrender lesson comes into play.
My due date was September 29th and when my contractions started on September 21st, International Peace Day, I thought, of course my Montessori baby would want to be born on International Peace Day. Naive again, I didn’t realize the journey that I was in store for. Twenty-four hours after my first round of contractions, there was no end in sight. My mental state was suffering as the pain was mounting. Finally I had to make a choice to continue trying to labor at the birth center, practicing new positions, and using natural remedies like sterile water shots for the back labor pain, or move on to the hospital for an epidural so I could get some rest. Reluctantly I chose the hospital option. After thirty-two hours of labor from start to finish, Mikayla Elizabeth was born at 2:55 am. I didn’t exactly “breathe the baby down”, and I didn’t get my natural, water birth after all, but my journey taught me so much about the inevitable surrender that encompasses motherhood.
Loss, and trusting again
Two years later, I was pregnant again, but this time felt different. I don’t know how to describe my thoughts, but something didn’t feel right. When I went for my eight week appointment, I found out that I was carrying “an empty nest” as I call it, or a blighted ovum as the medical world calls it. I thought that I was mentally ready to be a mom again, but my body wasn’t physically ready, and my baby never materialized. I learned a lot through that experience as I had to surrender to so much beyond my control. I had to allow myself to be broken, open, and lean into my feelings. After this experience I had to learn to trust my body again, which was another process in and of itself.
Now as I sit here typing this, I am about to experience my next round of surrender as I am weeks away from my due date with baby #2. In fact, by the time this is published, he will be here. The surrender of my expectations and plans is the lesson that this little one is sharing with me. I just found out this week that due to placenta complications, he will arrive via Cesarean section. This certainly was not part of my plan, and I was looking forward to “kicking labor’s ass” this time after my initial experience. But again, surrender has been the name of this motherhood game for me.
The truth is, motherhood is a surrender because we are separating ourselves from the little souls that we are carrying, and the greater plan that they have for their lives and births. My birth as a mother has become synonymous with surrender because none of these situations have gone as I have planned. Yet as always, our babies are our greatest teachers. Because in life, as in labor, and certainly in parenthood, things do not always go as planned.
Whenever my daughter and I read a family favorite Nancy Tillman’s On The Night You Were Born”, she asks me about her birth story. I always say that just when I thought I couldn’t push anymore, somehow I mustered up the courage, and within minutes, they put this “slimy little girl” on me, and my whole world changed. One line from the story that always stands out “life will never be the same”. And sure enough, since becoming a mother, my life has never been the same.