*Trigger warning for those mamas who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss…or both.
In a white-tiled bathroom, nestled safely in the middle of our house, I birthed our first child into the toilet.
My body had just caught up to the memo that the child inside was no longer healthy and growing. They called it a ‘missed miscarriage’.
Together, my body and soul, were embarking on an ordeal.
There was no going back. It was an experience that couldn’t be bypassed or unsee.
In the thick of it and completely out of control, I witnessed the ordeal re-write my story, whether I agreed to it’s antics or not.
In those moments, my initiation into motherhood started.
I was navigating my first rite of passage, digging my heels in and at the same time, finding a way to surrender to my new story.
I now speak frankly about my experience with miscarriage, but at the time my world was being rocked.
Initiation is a bitch.
Everything I knew to be true about who I was, what my body was capable of, my strength and resiliency… all of it was being woven into something new that I didn’t recognize.
The next ordeal came at 38 weeks pregnant when our natural, minimal intervention birth plan turned literally upside down when we found out our daughter was in breech position. After doing all the less than ideal interventions to get her to flip on her own, she was brought earthside with an emergency c-section.
I felt I needed that natural birth to regain confidence and trust in my body, but I resurfaced on the other side having to contend with the feeling of loss yet again.
Something so crucial had been taken away. My vision of bringing my daughter earthside, completely shattered. My trust, never restored. Yet I was somehow awakened to a greater sense of personal advocacy and acquired a new definition of surrender.
Another ordeal started during my postpartum sacred window, with breastfeeding struggles that brought me to my weakest moments and continued until my daughter was almost 2. She was borderline premature, tongue-tied, and suffered from reflux, serving up every breastfeeding hurdle on a silver platter. Once we got into a bit of a groove, we were easily sideswiped by every supply dip, nursing strike, and hormone change. Each hurdle would take me to the ledge, forcing me to re-write my understanding of what it meant to provide for another and what it meant to trust my body. Another moment to forgive myself, give my body grace, and to surrender
My current ordeal is a challenging one. I’m moving through the grieving process WHILE mothering. A perfect storm that no one talks about and no one can prepare you for. Grieving the loss of identity, the impending loss of a family member, and the loss of my title as “breastfeeding mama”. Once I get on the other side, I’ll be sure to share. The ability to share sometimes feels like a retrospective superpower, doesn’t it?
I’ve learned that not all rites of passage are meant to feel heroic.
Sometimes we come out on the other side feeling like we’ve conquered the world and other times we feel like we’ve just got our teeth kicked in.
Sometimes it’s a confusing combination of both.
That’s ok. Mostly my experiences feel like the teeth getting kicked in version and I can confidently state (with deep inner knowing) that it’s all part of the purposeful ordeal.
Rites of passage are there to change you.
They are there to help re-write a piece of your story to give you deeper understanding and depth.
They are there to allow you to feel things you’ve never felt and to bare witness to only those things the initiated crowd gets to see.
They present us the opportunity to surrender, and then surrender again.
That day on the toilet, when my surrender into motherhood started, I was awakened to a much more gritty version of myself. I’m pleased to say I really like this version.
I’ve come to really appreciate the opportunity to face an ordeal, knowing that on the other side is a more resilient, more flexible ME.
I’ve come to see each ordeal as a gift, giving me dimension, depth, and a veil of empathy that I wear like a badge of honor.
Mama, I challenge you to not fall victim to your ordeal.
To embrace it for what it is, the mirror that shows us how much we can handle.
How strong we really are.
Let’s honor rites of passages, those big and small, as they awaken us to the pure essence of what it means to mother – surrendering to everything, surrendering to your ordeal.
Let’s celebrate the time stamp of our metamorphosis, as we are changing for the better.
Together, we have the power to bring about change in the way we speak about motherhood transformation.
It’s important to create a safe space for mothers to land when we come out on the other side of one of the many ordeals of motherhood. Having been initiated through an ordeal, gives us the ability to come together with deep, empathetic awareness, creating an environment that allows for the integration of new identities. By simply showing up, sharing and acknowledging one another’s rites of passages, we are transforming the way we honor our mothers.
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Each week, expect a bite-sized personal reflection with accompanying journal prompt. My hope is that by sharing these reflections and prompts, you’ll be inspired into purposeful action and we’ll both be reassured that we are not alone in this process of unraveling.
Once a month, expect a curation of resources intended to inspire a deeper personal practice. There will be Q&A interviews to showcase how other women in this community navigate transformation, articles and podcasts that have made a lasting impression and practical mindfulness exercises to bring about sustainable change. If you’re a fan of mantra…there will be some of that too.