When I found out I was pregnant, I immediately started planning. I ordered pregnancy and labor books for next-day delivery, and I followed all of the mom accounts on Instagram. Through those first few months of pregnancy, I created a detailed vision of what motherhood would look like for me.
At just over 40 weeks pregnant, I went to my OB for a routine fluid check. After my ultrasound, she walked into my room and told me, “You need to be induced immediately.”
Wait…that wasn’t in my plan.
My abrupt induction was the first hint that motherhood was not going to be about my plans.
Madeline was born on a sunny Wednesday in January. I immediately felt that love that everyone talks about, but no one can accurately describe. The 40 hours of labor that I went through didn’t go as I had envisioned, but at that moment it didn’t matter. She was perfect.
My plans unraveled a little more when breastfeeding didn’t start well. We saw multiple doctors and lactation consultants. I read books and every online forum out there. But still, I cried every single time we fed. It was so hard, and that wasn’t part of my plan. I was convinced that something was wrong with us. Why couldn’t we get this? Slowly, over a few weeks, we learned together and we found our rhythm. Everything was okay.
Next, it was sleep. Twenty-minute naps for the first four months and hours of rocking to get to each one. This isn’t what the classes said would happen, drowsy-but-awake, right?? Eventually, her naps stretched to 45 minutes, then an hour. The rocking went from 30 minutes to 10, then to five. Now I can look back and see that even with inconsistent wake windows, everything ended up just fine.
We are approaching Maddie’s first birthday, and the biggest lesson I’m learning is that no amount of planning and preparation will perfect this imperfect journey. If I’m being honest, it’s been a tough pill for my type-A personality to swallow. I am slowly becoming more comfortable with loose planning and flexible routines. During our middle-of-the-night feedings, I’m not spending my time furiously researching how to get her to do things a certain way. I’m learning that I don’t have to be perfect for my daughter to be happy and healthy.
Letting go of some of the research and clock-watching has created time and mental space for me to be present. I find so much joy watching her take in the world and learn new skills. Being able to see her face light up when her dad comes home or when she stands for a few seconds on her own feels like the deep breath I denied myself for too long.
This year has been life-altering in the most challenging and beautiful ways. I know there will be tough days ahead as she transitions into a toddler, but I’m more confident than ever that there will be joy somewhere around the corner. Every tough stretch we’ve had to this point has turned out to be more than okay. So far, motherhood is about baby steps. Small, wobbly baby steps.