The First Stage of Motherhood: Learning to Let Go
I’m used to making things happen. I run a national initiative, finished undergrad at 20, and bought my first home at 24. My dad’s last words to me were: “In my dreams, you’re the hero, because you always get things done.” For a long time, it seemed that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t achieve with a little more elbow grease. Until, that is, I decided I wanted to become a mom. I wasn’t going to miss out on what I perceived to be one of the most amazing experiences of womanhood just because I didn’t have a partner.
It’s hard to believe now that my motherhood journey began over three years ago and included cross-country travel, known donors, ovulation induction with injectable drugs that left me in such pain I could barely walk, and some 40 pounds gained, a full third of my initial body weight.
It turned out that even my ovaries were a little too high-achieving. Instead of ovulating a couple of eggies on any one of these fertility-drug rounds, I would mature 60-70. I kept thinking that if I just tried a little harder, things would work the next time. So I kept on trying.
I finally realized that I had to take a different approach. I dropped the fertility doctors with their drugs, and began reading about how to treat my condition naturally. I studied up on Ayurvedic herbs, Paleo nutrition, sleep improvements, and stress reduction, and went to yoga twice a day.
After nearly a year of efforts in these areas (because, of course, I had to effort to reduce stress and sleep more), I began having a cycle. If it was closer to 30 days, then I judged myself to have done better on the sleep and stress fronts. If it stretched toward 50, I would reprimand myself for having traveled too often, worked too hard, and stressed too much.
Eventually, I grew tired of obsessing over cycles, being single in Maryland, and missing my city friends. And yet, sometimes you just have to move forward. For whatever reason, I couldn’t go back to DC, but instead needed a fresh start. Within a few weeks, without too much thought, I had sold a condo, rented out a house, convinced my employer to allow me to telecommute cross-country, and was setting off in my Honda Fit on a Great Journey West, little did I know then just how great.
My first few months in Denver passed peacefully. I rested from eight trips in ten weeks and a cross-country move. I began dating again. I learned to ski. I practiced yoga and swam daily.
It wasn’t until several months into my Colorado residency, because of a terrible skin irritation, that I visited Urgent Care, then a dermatologist, and then, finally, an endocrinologist. A few visits and several blood draws later, they made a stunning diagnosis: I was 16 weeks pregnant!
I had attributed my vanishing cycle to intensive travel and the stress of selling, renting, and moving. But I hadn’t lost my cycle. Instead, somewhere along Interstate 70, I finally let go of controlling my motherhood journey. After years of concerted effort, I happened to conceive by fluke.
I’ll be about 30 weeks into my miracle pregnancy this Mother’s Day, yet my first lesson in motherhood has come well before his birth. This Mother’s Day, as I await the arrival of my little guy (which I now fully expect will not go according to plan), I’m looking forward to finding out more of the myriad ways in which he invites me to lose control.
-Essay written by Andrea Falken, winner of our Mother's Day Essay Contest