Ode to the New Mamas in My Life

Last year I wrote a blogpost to the mothers in my life that I look up to. I loved having the opportunity to express my gratitude and admiration for them, because they are the reasons that I know anything about being a mom. I think I want to make this a tradition, because I could never write enough words to express all of the feelings I have about motherhood and my dear friends and family who raise such beautiful children.  This year, with a little more than a year of motherhood under my belt, I have an opportunity to write a letter to my friends who became mothers for the first time over the past few months. I have been blessed to know each of these women as friends, and now I am even more blessed to raise my baby alongside theirs.

Marissa, the moment I met Theo at the hospital for the first time, I burst into tears. You remember, don’t you? I flat out sobbed!! I think that seeing your new little bundle of joy, fresh out of the oven, was so overwhelming for me because it brought me right back to those same feelings and emotions I had in the hospital with Harvey. You have been rocking this motherhood thing, and I want you to know how much I have enjoyed our friendship throughout this process. I look forward to our stroller walks so very much, and truly love how comfortable I am discussing “new mom things” with you. I think you deserve an award for all of the hours you’ve spent listening to me talk about leaky boobs and diaper rash, haha!  I love all of the advice and hints you’ve shared with me these past few months, and I can’t wait to see the friendship between our boys grow. Also, just in case you haven’t been told recently, you are a freaking badass for buying a house, giving birth, raising a newborn, and GETTING YOUR DOCTORATE all in the same year!! Theo and Patrick are lucky to have you, lady! ❤

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Lindsay, a memory that will stick with me forever is the picture I saw of you smiling right before you went in the O.R. to have Luke. I think I love this image so much because it sums up your personality and mothering skills all in one frame. You make it look easy, girl. Right from the start, things didn’t happen the way you had planned, but it didn’t phase you one bit. You jumped right in to motherhood, head first, and I don’t quite know if Luke will ever understand what your dedication and hard work has done for him in these early months of his life. I love how much you shower my child with affirmations and sweetness, and how much you pour yourself into your work at Duke. It takes a special kind of woman to do the work that you do, and yet, your heart overflows with kindness for your family and friends after a day at the hospital. How do you do it?!! When I walk through the door at Rochelle’s I LOVE seeing your boy’s squishy face, and I think to myself every single time how grateful I feel that Harvey and Luke get to spend their days together. I look up to you so much, and I hope that you have a beautiful first Mother’s Day! ❤

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Jenn, the day Annabelle was born, I was too excited to work. In fact, I took the day off to get out my nervous excitement by cleaning your house and organizing your closet (the way I used to when we were in college)! I couldn’t stop crying all day! As I drove to Duke Regional last week, tears streamed down my face the entire way… MY BEST FRIEND JUST HAD A BABY!!! You are in the newest phase of life with your sweet baby girl, and I wish I could bottle these moments up for you because they go so fast. The way she smells now, and noises she makes now, the way her diapers don’t stink yet… it is over in the blink of an eye! I know you are going to soak it up! Also, you deserve a trophy after that incredible labor and delivery…27 hours, and a 9lb4oz baby is nothing to sneeze at! You are a week into it, and you’re already an amazing mama. When I think of the strong women in my life, you are at the top of the list. I think of you now when I hear this quote, “To the strong women in our life: May we know them, May we be them, May we raise them”! Also, the thought of getting to see little AB at Rochelle’s every day brings a smile to my face! The boys can’t wait! ❤

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Mamas, this is what we do. We lift each other up and let each other know that we are all in this together. You all deserve the best mother’s day ever, as do all the moms out there! I look up to you all in so many ways, and I am honored to call you my friends! xoxo

One Day at a Time, Step 9

This is the piece that I wrote for my Listen To Your Mother audition, and was honored to have been selected to share it with you all on stage last week! Thank you to all of my family and friends who came to support me! ❤

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Most women know that when they have their first child, the relationship they have with their own mother is going to change. Some women complain about the unwanted “advice” their moms give them, and some women are grateful for the time their moms take to help them with a newborn baby. Overall, I think I speak for most ladies when I say that the bond created between a mother and a daughter after childbirth is one unlike any other. To understand what it means to love another human life more than you love your own, and to understand what your mother went through to have you, well… that feeling is indescribable unless you’ve lived it.

For me, things were a little bit different. The day my son was born, I did not only become a mother, I became a daughter. Of course, yes, I’ve always been a daughter, but not in the traditional sense. In fact, I had already been a mother for quite some time if you want to know the honest truth. I was a mother to my brothers long before I was a mother to my own baby. My mother and I had more of a “friend to friend” relationship when I was a teenager and young adult, rather than a mother/daughter one… which is what it can be like to be the child of an alcoholic.

I learned to “mother” my siblings very well when I was in high school. I would take my two younger brothers to soccer practices, I would pack their lunches, and I would sign their parent permission slips. I would schedule their doctors and dentist appointments, make sure they had a ride home from a friend’s house, and keep the grocery lists up-to-date. I even filled out one of my brothers’ college applications! These weren’t really things that bothered me at the time because I truly didn’t know anything different. I knew my parents were loving, and I knew they were proud of me.

The first time my mom said “I am an alcoholic” out loud, I was a sophomore in college. Among some other very drastic life changes that included my parents getting a divorce, she told us that she was going to 12-step meetings. I was so happy with this news. Finally, I was going to get my mom back. I even went over to the local tattoo shop in Chapel Hill and put “One Day” on my wrist as a reminder of that feeling. But, by the time I came home for Thanksgiving break, she had fallen off the wagon for the first time, and my feelings of frustration, resentment, and sadness were growing. My mom was in pain, and I was in pain, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to cure it or to control it.

After going to treatment a few times, and continuing to build her support network in the recovery program, I could slowly see my mom coming back to me. The ways in which her alcoholism affected my life were deeper than I had realized at first, and would continue to be for a long time. When she first started talking to me about working the 12 steps, and who she needed to make amends to, I wasn’t ready for it. The day she asked for my forgiveness, I said all of the right words, but I wasn’t ready to give it. I think I was afraid that she would let me down again, that this time wouldn’t stick. Today, my mom has been sober for 6 years, 9 months, and 20 days, (not that anyone is counting!) and she has been a Mimi for a little more than a year.  I am grateful for every single second.

When Harvey was born, my mom came to Chapel Hill for the occasion. I was hesitant to ask her at first, because I just wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I had never done the whole “pushing a baby out” thing, and I didn’t know what kind of mojo I would need in the room. As it turns out, in the heat of the moment, I wanted my mom there.

I needed her support and nursing skills, and I think that having her with me while my baby entered this world was one of the single most significant events that either one of us has ever experienced. She has been the sweetest Mimi in the world, and Harvey is going to grow up knowing her for who she really is: a warm, loving, smart, and caring woman who has a heart that’s bigger than this room.

Now that I have my own child, and I have officially entered the newest chapter of my life, I feel ready to accept my mom’s amends. I feel like we have had an opportunity to start over, and I know not everybody gets one of those. I feel a renewed strength in our relationship and our ability to bond over my child. There is a new truth to the way we interact with each other.  I do not regret my life up to this point, you see, I would not be the teacher, coach, wife, mama, or friend that I am today if it weren’t for my experiences thus far.  If it weren’t for my mom and her new sense of self through sobriety, I wouldn’t understand the concept of beauty within our imperfections. I know that in her heart of hearts, my mom has loved me and wanted the best for me my entire life. The “Big Book” describes Step Nine as follows: “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development,” it says, “we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.”  The day I became a mother, I also became a daughter. The day I became a mother, I forgave my own mother. The day I became a mother, I also gained a mother.

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Here are some pictures from the show! 🙂

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Happy Birthday, Emma

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Dear Emma Lynne,

It has almost been one year since the day you were born, and I have spent time over the past twelve months searching for the words with which to share my feelings and love for you. This entry is just one small attempt to make that happen, and I hope your parents will welcome my thoughts.

Two weeks before you were born, I found out that I was pregnant. Having known your mama in high school and college, and knowing that she was pregnant with you, I took a special interest in your story and her journey. I loved that you were a surprise to the outside world. I loved that your mother shared pictures of her growing belly so fearlessly. I loved that you were going to be born at any minute, and I was one of the people checking social media to make sure I didn’t miss your arrival. All of these things were helping me with my transition into motherhood, as my own nugget was still very tiny, new, and a secret to the rest of the world.

And then, I woke up on that day last September, and read your mama’s post about your birth with a smile on my face. You were a girl, your name was Emma Lynne Maclaga, and on the day you were born, you had also died. My smile turned into tears, and I couldn’t help but sob. My reaction and feelings will never come anywhere near what your parents must have felt, and still feel to this day. However, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “how could this happen?” I was devastated, and angry. How did God allow such a sweet innocent life to slip away? It wasn’t fair. I couldn’t wrap my head or my heart around your passing, and I felt as if I didn’t deserve to have my baby still growing inside my womb while your mother only held you in her arms for a short while.

After asking all of those questions, it slowly became clear to me that God had a plan for you, and for your parents. Your mother, with such courage and honesty, began writing about you. She shared, what I can only imagine to be a fraction of her deepest feelings and heartbreak. She wrote about you and your beauty. It is through her words that I found a connection with you, and it is through her words that you’ve had such a profound impact on my life. With more grace and strength than I could have ever managed, your mother gave your life a purpose, and began the process of healing herself and other women who’ve also lost their babies.

The first time I saw your picture, I was blown away. You are gorgeous. Your soft, dark hair and perfect button nose made me wonder what my little one was going to look like. The day my sweet baby was born, I thought of you. When he first opened his eyes and looked at me, I began to cry, and I felt your presence with me. He was with me, and you were in heaven.

Five weeks later, I went to see your mama tell your story. Oh sweet Emma, she brought you to life with her voice. I have never been so moved. My heart felt as if it would burst right out of my chest. The room full of people could feel you with her, there is absolutely no mistake about that.

I believe that someday, you and your parents will meet again. Perhaps, you will have younger siblings, and I hope that you know you will always be their big sister. My wish for you is that you continue to watch over your family here on earth, as they will long for you the rest of their days. My wish is that your story continues to touch and heal lives. My wish is that your mother and father continue to find hope and strength, and that they feel you with them as they do.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl. You are loved from near and from afar. ❤

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