the day i became a mom
First try. Miscarriage. IVF. Home. Hospital. Epidural. Unmedicated. Vaginal. C-section. Preemie. Full term. Surrogate. Adoption.
Just as every child is different, every path to motherhood is too. While it can all feel very isolating, much of motherhood is a shared experience — and an experience worth sharing. Nine women reflect on their story of becoming a mom, and the day that changed them forever.
Because birth isn’t just about making babies. It’s about making mothers.
THE DAY: JANUARY 21, 2022
My journey to motherhood was a rocky road. My husband and I suffered one miscarriage while trying to get pregnant. We got our “sticky baby” after 5 months of trying. My pregnancy was pretty textbook — no complications and no horrible symptoms either.
My birth, on the other hand, was very scary. We had planned for natural, unmedicated birth in a birthing center, but my amniotic sac ruptured prematurely. Meaning, before I started labor. My labor didn’t start until I decided to get labor-inducing acupuncture 20 hours after my water broke (trying to avoid a hospital birth at all costs). The acupuncture catapulted me into VERY intense labor, but it was unprogressive — I never dilated.
After 5 hours of intense contractions with no progress, my midwife made the difficult decision to transfer me to a hospital. Once I arrived, they immediately began preparations for a C-section. I didn’t have much choice to advocate for a vaginal birth at this point since my sac had been ruptured for so long. The C-section was fine and my baby girl was born very healthy.
They ran cultures in my blood to rule out the possibility of infection, but it turns out that I had in fact developed an infection and it was so intense that I was actually going septic — meaning the infection was in my bloodstream. Things got really intense at this point and I was immediately hooked up to IV antibiotics and taken to postpartum. My infection was so bad that they would not discharge me until I was able to have a PICC line inserted so I could self-administer a continuous antibiotic drip from home for two weeks.
I ended up staying in the hospital for a week and spent the next two weeks at home trying to breastfeed with tubes and ports coming out of my body. It was intense and dramatic and scary at points, BUT my baby girl Willow is healthy and now I am too. Everything turned out perfectly.
My advice to someone who is about to become a first-time mom is to trust your intuition. You will get a lot of well-meaning advice from parents and other moms, but ultimately YOU will know what your baby needs. Each baby is so so different and your intuition will be so very strong. Listen to it and trust it.
THE DAY: JANUARY 8, 2015
My journey to motherhood was intentional. We wanted to get pregnant and tried for about 6 months. The emotional and mental ups and downs were wearing me out so we decided to take a break from it all and booked a trip to Bali and BAM, 3 weeks later I found out I was pregnant. We still went to Bali :) I had a relatively easy pregnancy and with the support of my doula and doctor, I was able to have the unmedicated hospital birth that I envisioned. It was the most empowering experience of my life. For the second baby, I had an awful pregnancy and happily got that epidural and still felt equally badass!
My advice to a first-time mom is to go easy on yourself, remember no phase lasts forever, only YOU know what’s best for your family, ASK FOR HELP, a hot shower is transformative, and most importantly, fill your cup first. I don’t know that there is a way to escape guilt, pressure, and the stress of being a new mom but these are all things I wish I would’ve done more of… Oh and order yourself some fancy pajamas;)
THE DAY: NOVEMBER 28, 2018
My journey to motherhood was long and arduous. After 5+ years of fertility treatments, our miracle baby boy came using IUI and then 3 years later, we had a baby girl with the same IUI intervention. In perspective, I'm truly grateful for the process, as it strengthened my partnership with my husband, sharpened my character, and shaped my ability to be patient and let go, which is what parenting is all about. Plus, even now in the tough moments, all I have to do is look back and recall how much I once wanted to be in the very situation I'm in now and even the hardest day as a parent is still comparatively easier than the deep unfulfilled longing I had experienced during our fertility journey.
The little things are the BIG things — from taking care of yourself every day in small moments, to finding windows of peace, pockets of joy, and mental snapshots to remember forever, you'll realize that this is what makes up the quality of your life and is ultimately how you experience parenthood.
THE DAY: MARCH 9, 2022
I became pregnant early last summer after undergoing a surgery for a uterine septum removal. Having the surgery was the best decision I could have made, and I’m endlessly grateful that it was a success. It made me remember to never take fertility or motherhood for granted because it’s not guaranteed. After the septum was removed, it forever left my womb in the shape of a heart, which feels extra meaningful as the place where I was able to build my son :)
My labor and delivery was surreal. I was so nervous about the whole experience leading into it as a first time mom, but it was interesting how when the contractions started, I actually felt excited and at peace, and it was really empowering to see my body take over and pull us across the finish line. When my doctor placed our son on my chest for the first time, it was honestly and truly the best moment of my entire life. I felt like my heart was exploding with love, and I’ll never be the same.
Being a mom is the best thing I’ll ever do and I’m forever grateful… and there is nothing more badass than childbirth, in my opinion! ;)
THE DAY: OCTOBER 27, 2016
My journey to motherhood was, like many others, not easy. I did fertility treatments, eastern medicine, and had three early-term miscarriages for five years before deciding to start the adoption process. From the beginning, the process flowed with adoption and I knew it was the right choice.
Both of my children are adopted and have the same biological mother. Our decision to have children so close in age was not planned but when we found out that our daughter's biological mother was pregnant, we decided to adopt her sibling. His adoption did not initially go through, so we faced a loss that was hard on us as a family. Then, he came back into our life when he was 11 months and our daughter was not yet two.
That time was not easy on us — we had no time to mentally prepare for the shifts and we are still calming our nervous systems from then. The reality of the intensity of it is still affecting me. I’m currently working on having grace for that and allowing myself to be okay with things not going as I had wanted. It’s easy to look at other people that seem to have it so together, that’s a crazy part of motherhood that so many of us do!
To a first-time Mom I would say: 1) Don’t worry about what might happen. Everyone will give you advice but don’t worry about remembering it until you know what challenges you will face. It’s too much to store all the practical “what if’s” and every baby really is different. 2) One thing I love about adopting a child rather than having them be biologically linked to me is that I see them as an individual rather than an extension of me. I would remind all mothers to see their child as their own self. They are not there to live the life you did not. And, they are not there to fit right in. They are a combo of nurture, nature, and biology.
THE DAY: MAY 5, 2017
Actually, the word “journey” is one that I used A LOT, especially in the first few months of being a mom. I went into labor at 28.5 weeks, and even before my son was born (at 29 weeks), my doctors and best friend (who coincidentally also had a premature first born) emphasized that no matter what was about to happen with myself or with my child, it was going to be a journey. Solo was in the NICU for two months, during which we dealt with various complications that happened simply due to prematurity, but would then resolve itself with time.
I remember every little new thing seeming so serious and terrible, and then it would pass and I would feel an enormous sense of relief, and then something else would come up, and the whole cycle would repeat itself. On the other side, however, we were witnessing our little preemie baby accomplish so many things day after day, like taking the bottle for the first time, or breastfeeding for the first time. Literally every gram of weight he put on was a huge win. When he finally came home, I was of course so happy, but also at the same time I was even more stressed out than when he was in the NICU! The NICU had all of the amazing nurses that had all the answers, and now my husband and I were going to be relatively alone. That took some time to get used to, but then I did, because that’s what mothers do.
Try to not to be so hard on yourself and know that motherhood is HARD AF for every woman. You’re not alone. People just don’t talk about the hardships very often. Also, breastfeeding does not come easy to most new moms. Formula can be your friend. Don’t let the haters guilt you into losing your mind and soul over breastfeeding. Fed is best.
THE DAY: DECEMBER 22, 2003
My journey to motherhood was nothing like I had pictured. I always assumed I would be older, that I would have a supportive partner and I would have a solid foundation in my life as an adult. The reality is I was 16 when I conceived and I spent most of my pregnancy trying to quickly educate myself about all the things I needed to know about birth and parenting. I went into labor very ignorant about what the experience would actually be like. It turns out television and the movies aren't always accurate! Although I would not classify my experience as traumatic, it certainly was not what I wanted or had imagined. I think a lot of what I experienced was the result of me being a young mother who really did not understand why I would have to advocate for my choices and how to do so.
My advice for any future parents is to surround yourself with people who know and love you. Life with a new baby is exciting and lovely... but it is also exhausting and overwhelming. Creating a postpartum plan and knowing who can support you and when may help lower stress levels and make the adjustment easier. If friends and family stop over, it is okay to ask them for help — most people want to but don't know what may be best. Ask them to pick up a few groceries, bring over a meal, help with cleaning, etc. These small acts of kindness make a huge difference. If family and friends are not nearby, hiring a professional like a postpartum doula or cleaner can also lighten the load and bring reassurance all new parents need, whether it's their first or subsequent baby!
THE DAY: JULY 6, 2009
I was 21 years old when I had my first child. Super young and didn’t know the first thing about anything honestly. I just knew I wanted him and that I was going to love and care for this tiny human for the rest of my life. My first pregnancy was a breeze and I carried full term. It wasn’t until delivery that I realized ISH GETS CRAY!! I had a very narrow pelvis with a large baby coming through and wasn’t given any advice or direction before or during labor. People just said get the meds (and even that was crap advice). It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do and traumatic.
When is comes prenatal care, get to know your doctor and remember that they are there for YOU, not the other way around. If you aren’t comfortable or getting the care you want, SWITCH. Labor advice — and this is even more important to me than the doctor thing because it goes across the board… AUTONOMY!! I didn’t realize that the delivery staff just told me what to do the first time and me being inexperienced, I blindly trusted. I didn’t ask questions or argue. I went with whatever even when I knew I had a different idea or want/need. Discovering my voice and understanding that I was the only person delivering a child in the room… I HAD A SAY AND A RIGHT TO SAY YES OR NO. I was clear about this and it made all the difference regardless of the situation.
Lastly, CHILL OUT. The only thing you can control before and after that baby is YOU. That’s it… life happens and so do diaper blow outs!! Enjoy it… because once it’s done it’s done.
THE DAY: SEPTEMBER 6, 2019
My journey to motherhood wasn't traditional in any sense. My husband and I suffered through five years of infertility, and experienced five miscarriages in the process. In November 2018, we attempted a third IVF frozen embryo transfer, and it actually worked! Our son was born via C-section in September 2019, and it's still surreal that he's here. In October 2021, we tried another IVF frozen embryo transfer, and it was successful! Now I'm 32 weeks pregnant with our daughter, due in June. There were days when I didn't know if I'd ever become a mom to earthly children. It was brutal, but we kept the faith that someday it would work out and we'd have healthy babies.
In the process, I became Mrs. North Carolina 2018, and championed the #startasking movement, which encourages young women in their 20s to request fertility assessments from their doctors. I believe with the proper education and information regarding our bodies and potential fertility, it enables women to make choices about how they can potentially preserve fertility with options like egg freezing. My fertility journey was transformative, powerful, and made me a more empathetic and patient mother.
My advice to someone who's about to become a mom for the first time is to find the beauty in each day, and ask for help. As they say, "the days can be long, but the years are short." I've found that each phase of my son's life has both beauty and pain, but I try to focus on the beauty. Surrounding yourself with a strong, trustworthy, and supportive village is key. Thankfully we have the best family and friends to help us with our son. I wish every new mom the absolute best in her motherhood journey. It will be the hardest, but best thing you've ever done.