It is always difficult and painful to let go of the control you thought you had on life.

When my husband and I got pregnant unexpectedly (and unclearly—we still say it was a miraculous conception!), we had two choices: to hard-heartedly refuse to believe it, or to accept a new direction for our lives.

In hindsight it taught us a lot about ourselves and made for great growth in our marriage, our relationship and our identities.

But at first I resented everything. I really couldn’t believe that life had changed so drastically. I thought I would wake up from a dream. I had no idea how all of it would work! Motherhood was not a role I ever expected to fulfill at all. I was suddenly facing a crisis of identity. I was often conflicted and uncertain of who I really was, how I would handle my new role, and what the future would bring.


Then one day as I sat there, I thought how this tiny person inside me was actually “half” my husband. How could I not love her? And knowing she was “half” me helped me to love even myself.

In the end, I broke and let go of everything that I thought I knew and started all over. The uncertainty of it all drove me to learn and accept new truths and experience changes to how I viewed myself, my friends, my family and mothers in general.

Since I had absolutely no experience in mothering, my new role challenged me to discover more about my body and its abilities, the different practices and approaches to baby care that worked best for our family, and the importance of a familial relationship. While my abilities as a woman, wife and mother have progressed, even today I’m still unsure of so many things.

But I’ve learned to live in the tension of not knowing and yet believing in something bigger than myself. Sometimes I can embrace this aspect, knowing that motherhood was thrown my way and I’ve learned and grown into it reasonably well. Other times—quite often actually—I’m still not crazy about this idea. How did this all happen? Where am I going? How can I continue?

I suppose that is the beauty of motherhood: There can be no book written that states how life is supposed to be. Rather, we are granted many opportunities to start anew, to forgive and forget, to learn and grow with and from our children.

Today, looking back, I think fondly of my baby in the womb. I think about how if I had known that baby was my daughter as I know her today it would have been so much easier. And so this remembering heals the past and makes the uncertainties of the future into beautiful mysteries. It’s a humble reminder that life is a gift not to be firmly grasped but accepted with open arms.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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My husband and I always talked about starting a family a few years after we were married so we could truly enjoy the “newlywed” phase. But that was over before it started. I was pregnant on our wedding day. Surprise!

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