Motherhood: The ultimate lesson on letting go
The birth of my second child has been my life’s greatest gift, thus far. Yes, each child is a gift and my first baby gave me the gift of motherhood which I am forever thankful for – but in comparison, she was easy and she kept me in my bubble of thinking I was in control. To a degree, my first baby fit into the mold of what I thought motherhood could be like.
To start, I will share that her pregnancy was not planned. In fact, I was actively preventing pregnancy and telling my husband (and the world) that I was NOT READY for baby #2. As soon as I proclaimed this to the universe: BAM pregnant. Literally, days later.
Within a few weeks I got on the baby bandwagon and began to get excited. I jumped into research mode and felt more than equipped to tackle this. I began building my framework of expectations for motherhood with two children and it was all mapped out in my head. After all, I was an expert by now and look at my first born – she’s doing great so I must be doing something right (Hellooooooo ego)!
At 30 weeks pregnant I found out baby was breech. In that moment I had the instant sinking feeling that I would end up in a C-section, which for me, was devastating. My first was born vaginally after 56 hours of labor with the loving support of midwives and a doula. I was proud of that and couldn’t wait to do it again. I was determined to flip her.
Thankfully, I still had 10 weeks to flip her…and when Kelly puts her mind to something it happens (remember, I still think I’m in control). I started with the natural, holistic methods (spinningbabies.com, acupuncture, chiropractor, handstands in the pool, you name it…). When that didn’t work I agonized over the decision to go into the hospital for the doctor to do a procedure called an external version where he manually attempts to turn the baby. I decided to go for it because I was determined to have a vaginal birth (still thinking I’m in control here).
36 hours before the external version appointment my water broke. I guess baby had different plans (shocker!). Less than 3 hours later Penelope was born, via C-section, a week before her due date.
Recovery from my C-section is another story but lets just say after having both a vaginal birth and then a cesarean I can say with confidence, I would take the former any day. It’s only then did I begin to get the clue that I don’t always get to decide. But that message was only a whisper, it didn’t really sink in until later.
Penelope was a sweet infant and seemed like a breeze compared to my emotional threenager at home. Just when I thought I was finding my stride Penelope was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, a condition that is more highly found in breech baby girls (and German Shepard dogs, apparently). She was put in a full body brace which made nursing and cuddling very difficult. A painful reality for a new mom who loves nothing more than an early morning snuggle (who doesn’t?!).
Between the cesarean recovery and the hip dysplasia, maternity leave wasn’t what I had expected. There were a lot more doctors appointments and medical interventions than there were sleepy long mornings in bed. Not to mention a toddler running around navigating her new identity as sister.
Fast forward to four months postpartum and I was back at work full-time. Thankfully I put fantastic support in place and I was going to rock this working mom to two girls thing. I gathered up my pumping supplies, read a few mommy blogs on returning to work, trained my nanny, and set out to work.
Being a full-time working mom with an infant and a toddler was way more stressful than I could have imagined. Not only that, but I was a mess emotionally. While I had a support system in place on the outside, my insides were screaming for help. I ignored all signs from my body to slow down and to process emotions and heal. After all, taking care of myself felt like a selfish luxury, I had two children and a career that needed me.
Within two months of being back at work my milk supply had tanked from all the stress yet my stubborn-self refused to supplement with formula. Breast milk was my plan and I nursed my first for 15 months, shouldn’t Penelope have the same treatment (and remember, I’m still thinking I’m in control)? I tried all the tips for bringing back a stronger milk supply but after months of struggling and Penelope’s weight becoming a real concern, I snapped out of it and gave her formula.
I know now that formula is not the end of the world and in fact, it SAVED me and my baby. But at the time I was in the camp of believing formula was evil. I am grateful to be humbled by this and now I’m a huge advocate for FED IS BEST.
It took a few more months before I really broke down and sought to live life differently. I vowed to stop trying to control everything in my surroundings and instead surrendered to letting go.
To letting go of control.
To letting go of expectations.
To letting go of perfection.
I did this through a daily ritual of morning meditations, gratitude journaling, and overall a slowing down of my life. Saying no to the things that drained me, and YES to the things that filled me up. In these moments I could see more clearly and love myself more deeply…finding authentic joy in motherhood and raising my littles.
Penelope is my greatest gift because she taught me that I am not in control. That forming expectations on what something will be like serves no one. She’s taught me these lessons many times and she’s not even two. I have no doubt she will continue to teach me for my lifetime.
I am humbled and grateful to have had these experiences because I can see, without a doubt, that I am not in charge of everything. I can do my best and prepare myself, but ultimately there is more at play than my own agenda. Knowing this has brought me a world of freedom and relief – because for the first time in my life I understand that it’s not my job to figure it all out. Instead, I take it day-by-day and trust that when challenges arise I am equipped to navigate through them.
Do parts of my story resonate with you? Are you interested to learn more about how to build in daily rituals that help you let go of control? If so, I’d love to see if working together could help, click here for more information.