Being pregnant is an incredible lesson in surrendering control

My first experience with anxiety and PTSD was at age 12. September 4, 2001 my family visited the observation deck of the World Trade Center. It was beautiful and a memory I hold so dear to my heart. I can still remember the feeling of experiencing the breathtaking views of our city. A few days after our visit, the unimaginable happened. Even after all these years, I still view my life as pre 9/11 and post 9/11. Since that day, I developed an unhealthy obsession with the news and my anxiety spiraled out of control.

When I finally got the help I needed I spent the next few years in therapy which helped tremendously, but eventually, I slowly stopped going and tried to deal with my anxiety on my own.


Fast forward to this past year.

After six months of marriage, my husband and I decided to start trying for a baby. To prepare for this major life event I knew I had to get some control over my anxiety, so I found a therapist and started weekly sessions. The biggest lesson my therapist taught me was how little control I have over most situations and to always stay mindful and accept feelings and events as they happen.

I had no idea how much I would need the tools she was giving me in the upcoming months during my pregnancy.

I found out I was pregnant a few months into therapy. I was confident I had the tools to manage my anxiety and felt I had a good game plan to keep it under control. Less than two weeks after finding out we were expecting our first child, my husband was laid off from his job. Subsequently, we lost our insurance since it was the last day of the month. Panic set in.

The first seven months of pregnancy were difficult.

After the layoff came morning after morning of nausea and vomiting, several breast biopsies after a lump was found, then a major health scare at 25 weeks.

After spending a morning in excruciating pain I went to urgent care, then was rushed to the emergency room due to a 7mm kidney stone blocking my ureter and causing my kidney to swell more than it already does during pregnancy. Almost four days of pain later, I under went emergency surgery to place a stent in my ureter to relieve the blockage of urine going from my kidney to bladder. Not only did my pregnancy complicate the surgical procedure, but we found out I was born with a congenital defect that resulted in a duplicated system. Most people have one ureter but I have two and it has been affecting the kidney with the blockage.

A week after my surgery was my 28 week checkup and I learned I had gestational diabetes. I felt like I had been knocked down again. I immediately burst into tears.

My midwife was so kind to me. She balled her hand into a fist and placed it into my open palm and said, “This is your power. It’s yours to have back.” It was a small gesture that had a big impact on me. In this moment I felt empowered and I felt like she helped piece me back together. This was a pivotal part of my pregnancy journey.

Despite all the bumps in the road, I knew I had to deal with the situation given to me and so far I was doing a pretty good job, so now was not the time to lose it.

I spent the next few weeks adjusting to monitoring my blood sugar and getting used to a stricter diet. (All of this probably for the best since I needed to get a handle on my sweet tooth anyway! ??)

I am currently 32 weeks and had to have a nephrostomy tube placed to further protect my affected kidney. The nephrostomy tube is a catheter that drains urine from my kidney through my back into a collecting bag that attaches to my leg. I currently have two draining tubes and collection bags.

(If that doesn'’t sound fun to deal with on top of 30 extra pounds, pelvic pain, impending labor and delivery, than I don'’t know what does! ?)

But, I refuse to give up my power.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t spent days crying thinking “Why is this happening?” or allowing myself a little pity party here and there. Because, to be honest, at times I feel like my body is failing at something it was built to do. Throughout all of this, I kept thinking “What am I doing to my baby?”

I’ve had to reel myself back in, become mindful and take it one breath at a time.

Jumping ahead of ourselves is something we are prone to do, especially being pregnant. It is so easy to start questioning the “what ifs?”

I am learning that the best thing I can do for myself and my baby is to have a sound mind.

To find something that brings you peace, something that will comfort you during the scary times. Let’s face it—pregnancy can be scary even if you are experiencing a completely typical pregnancy. Our bodies go through unimaginable changes. Nothing can prepare you. I am surrounded by some amazing, strong women who had seemingly uncomplicated pregnancies and births—I had no reason to believe I would be any different.

During this journey I decided to turn to my faith.

My faith has given me strength and has helped me surrender my control (that I never actually really had) and to trust in the process. It won’t be the same for every woman, of course. Maybe you will chose art, yoga, writing, or knitting. Pick something that when you feel the overwhelm coming on, you can turn to and bring your mind back to the task at hand. ?

This pregnancy has been a lot to go through, but I have no other choice. And I know so many other women are walking a similar (or more complicated) path than me. I am calm in knowing that the end result will be the greatest gift of my life. My heart is full of love when I think about my husband holding our daughter. I am brought to tears when I feel my baby moving inside my womb.

This is all worth it.

Trying to conceive and experiencing the ups and downs of pregnancy are the two biggest lessons in surrendering control (which I hear, you have to do as a parent, too.) We don’t have control over perfect timing or unexpected twists and turns. Our only option is to take things as they come.

Oh and—never, ever google anything. Like...ever. ❌

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.

Our Partners

As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking.

On July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department announced the 33-year-old mother's body was found at Lake Piru, five days after her son was found floating alone on a rented boat. According to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, Rivera's last action was to save her son.

"We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point in her journey. It was at that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water," Ayub explained, adding that Rivera's son was wearing his life vest, but the adult life vest was left on the unanchored boat.


Ayub says exactly what caused the drowning is still speculation but investigators believe the boat started drifting and that Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself."

Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

Keep reading Show less