Jack turns one on Friday. I’m going to have a whole post dedicated to him, of course, but I wanted to talk about what it means for me too. This special milestone birthday also means that I’ve been a mom for a year. (Or, you know, almost since this is a few days ahead of the actual day!)

I have often been thinking about the quote about how when a child is born, so is a mother. This past year has been the most transformative of my life. I am a different person today than I was before giving birth. I could list a thousand ways in which I’m changed, but the biggest one is that I know a love I didn’t know before. It’s a love that knows no end… and it’s terrifying.

I feel as if I’ve been cracked open with the most sensitive of nerve endings exposed to the world. This child of mine feels apart of me and is also living outside of me. It sounds so odd, but I sometimes look at Jack and just want to put him back inside of me to protect him from everything. Knowing this is impossible and that raising a child means knowing this little piece of you is just roaming the earth outside of me is, I think, the most vulnerable thing I could ever feel. Sometimes I wish I didn’t know this infinite love because it hurts.

There have been extremely hard days and so many moments where I felt overwhelmed and tested and, maybe even, broken. I have felt confusion over what the right thing to do and sadness when I see my child in pain and loneliness during long nights and simple days. I have felt so much guilt over making hard choices and I have felt like a failure more times than I could even count!

But, oh, if it isn’t also the most beautiful thing. The most joy!

Even though “joy” feels like such a simple word, I think it sums up how I feel every day best. I feel so happy and content and fulfilled as a mother. I don’t want to speak universally to motherhood because everyone is going to have a unique experience. So I’m only speaking for myself here, but it truly feels like my life began the moment Jack was born. When I was pregnant, I had been warned by well (and not-so-well) meaning people that life as I knew it would be over. And it was. It’s just that I don’t think of it as ending so much as something amazing beginning.

And in the same vein, I am so excited that this is just the very beginning of motherhood for me. I have had a decent amount of “success” in my life, but this is the first time where I feel like I’m fulfilling my purpose. I look to the future with so much excitement. I’ve been teary about saying goodbye to Jack’s infancy, but I truly cannot wait to see what lies ahead.

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Hi! I know you turned off your DMs. I’m about a month behind you in boy momhood and I found you while I was pregnant. It’s been beyond refreshing to read your account and track a little bit behind you! Everything you describe exactly how I feel. I’m a self employed residential designer who was also stretched thin trying to manage part time work and full time mom – you inspired me to find help! I had a very run of the mill birth and it was still traumatic for me! I love how you talk about motherhood and the struggles and positives. I’m so happy to have found you online. Anyways – you’ve got a friend (and a playmate for Jack) in Raleigh, NC if you ever find yourself down here! Sending all the love.


Piping up in response to your Stories, too. I had a traumatic birth (but not ~that~ traumatic, all things considered, because I didn’t need a hysterectomy or ICU time). For the hospital portion of my complications, the most traumatic parts were mundane things like having IVs in my elbow on my dominant side, a nurse forgetting to put down her number so I couldn’t contact anyone to get care, and not recording clear answers on when part of the treatment would finish.

Having your agency removed, especially at such a big transition point in your life, is traumatic no matter what. No one should have to justify why their experience was traumatic.

Jack has a 7.5 month old friend in Virginia! 💖


Also commenting because of your Instagram Stories! I had my son in July 2021 after a high risk pregnancy (I have Type 1 Diabetes and I was induced a few weeks early because I was starting to have placenta failure). Hearing you say you didn’t receive adequate care after giving birth and how it was a traumatic experience despite having a “standard” birth really resonated with me.
Most of the nurses I had during my delivery were lovely and very caring. But between the nurses being overworked, not having adequate training on complicated pregnancies and deliveries like mine, and being forced to follow standard hospital procedures that left no room to meet individual patient needs, I also felt failed by the medical system. That included being put on the wrong insulin IV system (which could have killed me if a second nurse hadn’t doubled checked), being given a pain medication that made me hallucinate during labor without being warned that is a normal side affect, being sewn up incorrectly by a student midwife after giving birth, not having my stitches double checked before leaving the hospital, being told the amount of pain I was feeling postpartum was “normal” multiple times by my doctors office (it wasn’t), and having to have two surgeries months later to finally fix the stitches mistake.
Most healthcare workers are trying their best so I don’t blame any of the nurses or the student midwife. But our medical system is failing them and therefore failing us as their patients. I think that is why so many births are so traumatic for mothers, even if they have a “normal and healthy” pregnancy and baby. The only way things will change is by people speaking up about the issue.
I’ve very grateful that you are sharing your story. You are not alone and it helps others like me to hear that we are not alone either. ❤️


This is such a beautiful post. While I don’t plan on having children of my own at the moment (so I may not be able to relate properly), my heart just warms at reading this. Jack is so lucky to have you!


Truly well written, Carly!
Love reading about your life as a mom.
I live in Germany and had my son just 2 months before Jack was born, that‘s why I can totally relate to your post 🙂


Thank you for sharing, Carly. Your love for Jack is so palpable in this post. Motherhood is so scary and vulnerable. Your feelings are so valid, and they also remind me of how I felt when I was experiencing the pain and struggle of PPA and PPD. There is help available if you are hurting. I support your journey and wish you the best in the years ahead.


I had my son a month after you did, and though I want to keep him from experiencing any hurt, I get comfort in the knowledge that I can help teach him how to deal with any kind of discomfort he may have in the future (mental or physical) because we can’t protect them for forever, but we can make sure they’re equipped. Also, I am making sure I provide him the tools he will need for life in general and it is exciting to see what he is going to do with those tools. It’s been so fun watching him become a strong little person and mastering skills we take for granted every day.

Loved your post today. It is a good reminder to stop and reflect on what is a whirlwind!

Valencia Gower

When you get overwhelmed, take a sec and remember MILLIONS of women (and men) have been in the same situation. am I making the right decisions for my little one. When I was pregnant with Aja and thought about the birthing process, i would get a little overwhelmed. Then I would remember how many red-blooded women have done the same. And I would say, if they can do it, so can I!!!!

Kate Brinkley

Congratulations on a beautiful year. Here’s to many, many more ❤️


Beautiful post! I was so, so sad when my first turned one. It is like mourning the end of him being a ‘baby.’ But toddlerhood is so special. As you said, it is amazing watching them grow and them interacting with you more and talking is truly magical! Thanks for sharing your journey with us.


This is beautiful and so relatable. I also feel that I have had some professional and personal success but nothing drives me like being a mother. We have four young children; our household is complicated and busy and there isn’t any time for “me” things (besides reading this blog while I’m nursing baby :)) but the JOY as you say makes it all worth it!! Thank you for celebrating mothering and congratulations on this meaningful milestone for you and your family!


I love that final perspective you wrote here. I feel the same at 35.5 weeks, I’m not scared of the girl I’m leaving behind. She got me here and we had a blast and she will always be a part of me, but I welcome the big change and new person I’ll become when my baby shows up in a few weeks! Congrats and happy (almost) birthday, Jack.


So perfectly worded on the first year of motherhood. Thank you for writing this! Happy birthday to Jack on Friday and happy birthday to you and this new purpose!


I am having my first baby (a boy!) in November and the warnings of life-as-you-know-it-is-over haven’t exactly filled me with excitement. I’m so happy to read your note about it being a new beginning. That’s such a lovely way to put a life changing event.


I’m only 3 weeks in to motherhood but this is so perfectly said. Congrats on this huge milestone for you and Jack!


I can relate!! My daughter turned one earlier this year, and these are the same feelings I had and still have. This type of love is SO unique. She feels like she’s a part of me and brings so much joy in our lives. Like even the word joy seems like an understatement lol


Your realistic and honest openness about motherhood is so truly appreciate. You can never be a perfect mother, but you can be the best mother you can be (which you are!). Happy almost 1st Birthday to Jack, and happy 1 year of motherhood to you! ❤️


Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us! I’ve been following you for a while and have been just behind you in many major life changes over the last few years (house, marriage, and now baby!) and it’s been so encouraging to see you navigate the ups and downs, sharing your experiences and learnings along the way. Your work makes us all better!


I love everything about this post! My little one will turn one in October, and I can so relate to the sadness, worry, excitement, and joy of motherhood! Like you, I feel that I’m truly becoming the person I’m meant to be since having my little boy. Thank you for sharing your journey through motherhood. It’s been so fun to watch Jack go through these milestones knowing my son isn’t far behind. You are a wonderful mother! Happy birthday, Jack and happy one year of motherhood, Carly!


Carly, I don’t have children so I really don’t know what it’s like but I appreciate you for sharing your own journey and perspective as a mom! Thank you!!! Happy birthday to Jack!! 🙂


Coming here in response to your stories. I had my twins three months before you had Jack and I also did not like the care I received but when I tell people about my experiences, it’s like the scene from The Hangover where he’s like “but did you die?”

About six weeks before I went into actual labor, I thought my water broke and we went to the hospital at 2 am. Because of COVID, I had never gotten a hospital tour and my partner wasn’t allowed to come in unless I wound up being admitted. He dropped me off at the front entrance (the one we were told to use) and then I was on my own to find my way to L&D which is at the complete OTHER END of the hospital. There was no nurse or security guard to escort me. A custodial worker found me wandering and wound up walking me there because I was in the completely wrong place and crying because I was alone and scared.

I started having labor pains on a Sunday evening. I went to my doctor on Tuesday who sent me right to the hospital and called ahead to let them know she was admitting me. I had a scheduled c-section but this was four weeks sooner than I was scheduled. I was in tons of pain and hadn’t slept in two days and the doctor I saw said “If you want to change your mind and have a vaginal birth, you can have the epidural right now but if you still want to go with the c-section, you’re going to have to wait at least an hour or so.”

I wound up delivering in the middle of the night – a more emergent case had to go ahead of me which was 100% fine, totally understood that (ironically it was my co-worker’s wife). One baby had to go to the NICU and my partner went with him. The other baby was brought to me in recovery because the nursery was closed due to staffing. Here I am, an hour after a major surgery expected to care for this baby alone.

I had lost a lot of blood during my c-section and wound up needing two blood transfusions in the days following my c-section. Apparently they give you a dose of benadryl before they start the transfusion and that knocked me out. My partner had to leave the NICU to come back to my room to take care of our other baby. Then NICU baby wound up getting released from the NICU so he had to take care of two babies.

I also had post-partum pre-eclampsia which I didn’t even know could happen. Like the post-partum information people are provided is abysmal. This lengthened our hospital stay because I was hooked up to a magnesium drip.

And to top it all off – the costs! Every time something unexpected came up, my partner was not only worried about the health and safety of me and the boys but also wondering how much the bill was going to be as we were already struggling with expenses. That shouldn’t be something people have to worry about while receiving necessary medical care.

We had one amazing nurse that I wish we could have taken home with us and one really terrible nurse that was mean and pushy and I actually wound up “firing” her – I told a doctor that I did not want her back in my room unless it was a matter of life or death. But hands down the most amazing person we met in that hospital was the food services worker that took our order and delivered all our meals. She was the sweetest lady and took time to chat with us and made us feel “normal”.