Susan and Angela are pleased to welcome their Legal Assistant, Christi Leupold, as Guest Blogger having just returned from maternity leave to provide perspective on the complexity of big life changes.
I screamed. My plan was to have an epidural and not feel any of the labor. But my plan was thwarted when my epidural did not work properly. Instead, I was in extreme pain as I brought my daughter into this world. Seconds later, she was safely in my arms and I was already starting to forget about the pain. I counted them, ten little toes and ten little fingers. They belonged to this perfect little human I was holding. The perfect little human that I carried nine months. This perfect little baby was mine and I was responsible for her. The gravity of my new reality swept over me in those quick moving moments immediately after bringing her into this world. This little miracle was here and she was perfect. I could already see that she had her daddy’s eyes and my nose. I was petrified of ruining her.
I wept. My 6 week old baby would not sleep. She was so tired that she would not stop crying. After three hours of feeding her, rocking her, singing to her, standing and swaying with her, I was now lying on the floor of the nursery crying. She was lying in her crib, crying. No one could have prepared me for the extreme exhaustion of sleepless nights AND sleepless days. Sleep when she sleeps, they say. But, what if the baby never sleeps? I was terrified that I was not made out for motherhood.
I held her. The morning of the day I came back to work, I sat in her room after feeding her and just held her. I looked into her eyes and small tears came to my eyes. I was no longer the only person she would rely on for everything. There was a sense of relief as well as one of sadness as this realization sunk in. My little girl is so precious, how do I shield her from all the bad things in the world? How will she handle the change of being at daycare for 8 hours a day? I can’t protect her from this.
Motherhood has changed me. It has shown me just how selfish I can be at times. I now know that my capacity to love is unending. I am aware more than ever that you cannot prepare for everything in life, and sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.
I was given 9 whole months to prepare. And prepare we did. We attended child birth education classes, completed the nursery, celebrated at baby showers, went to doctor’s visits, toured the hospital and practiced breathing techniques. As a planner, I tried to attend to all the details as best I could. Nothing could prepare me, however, for my daughter’s decision to be born 9 days early! But, we went with it. We had to. There was no stopping it and we had to adjust.
Then came the real change. No sleep. Dirty diapers. Frustrating nursing woes. Crying. We had a real life baby to care for and as any parent will tell you, this is hard work. No one told me that 4 days after I took my baby home from the hospital that she would stop latching on and I would cry for days not knowing how I would feed my baby. No one told me that I would get angry with my husband because he could go back to sleep while I fed the baby at 1 a.m. (of course he should sleep – he was on diaper duty!). As prepared as I thought I would be, there were still many unknowns once reality hit.
As it is with any change. No matter if they are changes we can see and plan for on the horizon or a change that seemingly comes out of left field, the unknowns are scary. I have seen this time and again with the people we represent daily as they go through a complex change in their own lives. I have a deeper understanding of the challenge they go through when navigating this complex change in their lives. The truth is, we can either adapt to change or let the fear of change paralyze us. The change is still going to happen, the question is, are you willing to let the change ruin you or grow you?