A few weeks ago, my friend texted me, "I was thinking. Maybe we should schedule a Zoom girls-night-in dinner and catch up? It'll be a while before we can do a baby shower for you and I guess I won't be able to visit and meet the baby right away?"

I texted back, "That makes me want to cry."

I am a mother of a 3.5-year-old boy. Each day of my son's life brings a new opportunity to practice surrendering and letting go—whether it's a belief, an expectation or desire to be in control.

There are the bigger lessons, such as changing my career course when I decided I wanted to become a mother or accepting the trauma of my delivery and the postpartum depression that came afterward. Then there are the daily acts of surrender that come with raising a tiny human, like giving up on a strict sleep schedule or hopes for a meaningful conversation with another adult while my kiddo's around.


At its worst, surrender feels like a white flag of defeat and despair. At its best, it is a practice in humility and grace. My days are a pendulum constantly swinging between both ends.

The two opposing sides are more apparent than ever before in this recent plot twist of my motherhood journey—being pregnant with my second baby during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Several months before the word "coronavirus" entered the public discourse, I was already preparing myself mentally and emotionally for another baby. I scaled back on work projects. I preferred staying home to going out. I rearranged the furniture in our kitchen and living room.

But now I can't stop myself from worrying:

Will I be able to have my husband and my doula in the room? Who will care for our son when I go into labor? What is my risk of exposure to COVID-19 by giving birth in the hospital? Is the risk worse if my VBAC fails, and I need an emergency C-section?

These worries are part of my brain's fight-or-flight survival response. I am no longer solely preparing my home for a baby, I am also preparing to stay safe during a health crisis. It will be a fight in the dark because there's no way to gauge how ready I will be, how ready I will feel. No way to know if my body and my spirit can handle it. My opponent is both real and imagined, a future outcome that is faceless and unknown.

For new and expecting mothers, it's crucial to be part of a supportive community of other women and mothers. Social distancing has made pregnancy feel much more isolating than my first pregnancy. Even with emails and FaceTime calls readily available, I feel less connected with my support system than I did my first time around.

I miss the feeling of warm hugs from loved ones. I miss having friends and family members marvel at my growing belly. I miss having the shared emotional experience of pregnancy with other women.

As my due date approaches, I mourn the fact that I will not have one last chance to gather with my closest friends before the baby's here. More than the fun shower games and adorable gifts, I am missing an important rite of passage into motherhood. And it's not just me—I know stories of people who have had their milestones taken from them during this pandemic—canceled weddings, canceled graduation ceremonies, canceled plays or recitals.

Here's what I've learned about surrendering—there is always an ending and a beginning. After death, after loss, comes rebirth. A chance for a new story to begin.

This truth has accompanied me throughout my motherhood experience. I am slowly finding my way to the other side of surrender, where grace and transformation reside. My journey has been made up of thousands of tiny, ordinary moments reminding me to trust the process.

One early morning, I woke up and felt the fluttering of my baby's kicks in my belly. I placed my hand where he moved as if I could touch something fleeting and sacred. For a few precious minutes, I forgot the chaos of the world outside. I forgot to be afraid.

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