I’ve honestly been avoiding writing this article for a bit because facing myself is hard work. To look back on the journey of motherhood and even before motherhood was even a thought. Now it feels something like a blur at times, because of how difficult it felt.
Conversing with Kelly Rowland on the Suga podcast to me, was super edifying to my soul. Kelly said something that made me feel less alone during that whole two year period of getting back to myself. I’ll paraphrase but she shared about her body, in years 1, 2, and 3. She said how she still didn’t feel like her body or herself was who she actually knew. All I could think was, “Wow, even Kelly Rowland didn’t feel like herself.”
“We’re all going to be alright,” I thought. Whenever someone else is transparent about their journey and experiences, especially if I felt the same feelings. I clumsily blurt out “Oh my gosh, you too!?” The silence we suffer in, even for the things we think are unimportant aren’t. Everything is valid. Even the so-called little stuff.
…Was Doing Just Fine
Because my journey to motherhood started at 36, I knew well the ground I stood on as a human being. I already had worked to enjoy a successful career, selected going on consistent dates when I wanted them, I knew myself morally, how much I wanted to drink and when, what company I wanted over, how much I wanted to work and for how long. You get the point. I liked the way I did things and how I did them. Maya Angelou defined that as success, and I was living in it comfortably, and confidently.
Even as Ella was growing in my body, my pregnancy really didn’t stop my progress or success. In the midst of it was a whirlwind of career activity. I was promoting a film I starred in, and produced called “Southside With You”, where I played a young Michelle Robinson (Obama). I thought, “Oh this ain’t nothin’ but a chicken wang”. Meaning I was breezing through my pregnancy with no complications, physically or mentally at that point. I thought I had this pregnancy down pat. But by the end of my pregnancy, my body had turned on me.
The last few weeks of my pregnancy, my blood pressure skyrocketed. I had a hard time breathing, my heart raced constantly. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia, also known as toxemia, a dangerous pregnancy complication that is characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. It can be fatal for mother and child.
Life got real, real quick when my water broke and I immediately felt excruciating pain. The kind of pain where you want to jump in front of a car to make it stop. Blood and fluid were pouring out of my body. It was traumatizing. By the time I reached the hospital I was begging for an epidural. Actually screaming and crying. All I know is a black nurse at Cedars Sinai hospital made me feel like she had my back that day. I know she did in more ways than one.
My blood pressure monitor was turned away from me so it wouldn’t scare me. That’s how high it was. When Ella finally was ready to be delivered my OBGYN looked at me and said, “She thought she would be having a different conversation with me.”
My blood pressure was so high I was on my way to seizuring or having a stroke.
Once Nick and I got Ella home I loved her with everything I had, but didn’t totally feel like the position of mother crowned me with all of its nostalgia right away. Her late night screaming sessions, the lack of breast milk coming in, and tender nipples made me feel like I was living a “Requiem of a Dream”, minus the drugs. I was delirious. And after months of this routine I felt like my sole purpose was to be a milk factory, but I didn’t feel like me. The me I knew before Ella. The single me before I had any attachments.
Do I Still Have It?
After about 6 months, don’t quote me on that, my blurry timeline is always off. Blame it on mommy brain. I started to work again, trying to get in the flow of things. It felt good. I had my daughter in tow, with my mama bear instincts and I worked it out. Still sludging through the newness of motherhood and wondering if people were questioning my abilities to show up and be my best because of my added bonus of a baby. I felt like I had something to prove.
But I didn’t. People still believed in me. It was me I had to convince that this new me was more than enough. I would never go back to who I was, but I learned that there was a greater place for me to grow. A better me. A more grounded me. And I started to integrate her and sit in the presence of her. I liked her a lot.
We Got This!
Three years later, I’ve never felt more confident. I’ve learned what I love about motherhood and things that I don’t love about it. It’s OK to not love everything! I’m OK with saying my honest thoughts more than ever. I have someone else to fight for everyday, but I still love time to myself.
Balance, I’ve discovered, isn’t a reality for me. Life is always going to be a string of moving moments. Time means the most to me at this point in my life. I don’t like wasting it. With a child, career, family and all the change I want to make in this world, time is the most precious commodity.
I’m happy to be free from yearning for that pre-mommyhood time I wanted back so badly from the past. In some ways I’d love for the place and time I’m in right now to just stand still, because I really love the way I do things and how I do them, which is success. Auntie Maya would be proud.