7 months after.

It's been 7 months since I had my c-section with Daxton. It's hard to believe it's been that long. I have lived with pain at my incision site every single day since then. Every day. In the past month I can honestly say that the pain has subsided significantly and now it's only a twinge here and there. But it's been present with me, every day, reminding me of that ludicrous day and night of trying so badly to give birth to my boy.

We tried everything. Ultimately, my natural birth plan was rudely interrupted by an emergency c-section. I've come to terms with it. I am grateful, so very grateful. A hundred years ago my outcome might have looked very different. Thank goodness for modern medicine, truly. But I still can't believe it happened.

I can't believe that women, so very many of them, live with this kind of wound striping them forever. Having gone through this experience has given such an awakening, such an understanding and for what others have endured.

I have a new respect for the medical community and for how well cared for I was by my doctors and nurses. For real.

I'm more aware than ever of how very strong women are.

I'm astounded by how beautiful and terrifying and gracious childbirth is.

The thing about having babies and becoming a mother is that it changes you. Forever. All the things you once thought about parenthood and "what you will do" means nothing. All the moments of judgement you once had toward other parents - you will find yourself in their shoes. You will find yourself remembering how you once judged someone for shoving an iPhone in their child's hand when they were screaming in public. You realize it at the exact moment that you are doing the same thing. I'm not saying its right, I'm saying you will find yourself doing it though.

This journey has humbled me. I used to think people who had c-sections were weak. They couldn't give birth or didn't really have the will to finish the job. Of course, I didn't mean to have these judgements. Forgive me, all of you. These thoughts were based on ignorance (as most judgements are). But after my experience, I see now how wrong I was. I worked so hard for both of my baby boys. It's the hardest work I have ever done. I was so strong and so fierce and yet my outcomes with both of my babies were so different. Everett was born naturally without any pain medications after 36 long hours. Daxton was delivered via c-section after 24 hours of labor, and an escalation from no pain meds to an introduction of pitocin, an epidural and finally, the emergency surgery. In fact, I think I even worked even harder for Daxton and still had a c-section. Life is strange, friends. Babies are worth it, though.

The day you give birth, there is awe and wonder at the new life you just created. But there is very little celebrated about your new life - when you become a mom, you are getting a new identity. You are forever changed. And to be honest, giving birth is kind of like the hazing before you get into the mom club. I'm kidding (sort of). But it's hard to find time or energy to really celebrate your own new identity. It's all so different - the new feelings (aka crazy hormones that are running the show), the new body (that you're trying to get on board with and not have self-loathing toward), the instincts of protection and ferocious love and adoration for your squishy (in my case, hefty), little love.

Nothing can prepare you for parenthood. You're never ready. But I can say with certainty that any pre-concieved judgements I once had towards other mothers is totally gone. Whenever I see a mom barking at her child at the grocery store, I say a silent prayer for her. Who knows what kind of day she's had and what kind of pressure she's been under, the lack of sleep she's probably be living with, the overwhelm she must be feeling. Grace grace grace. Grace for all the mamas!

I saw a cool-looking mom the other day at Target. We were both checking out at different registers, and she was holding her infant while her toddler was pulling on her shirt, and she was swiping her credit card and loading bags into her buggy and she was just momming so hard. I hollered over to her, "You're doing it! You got this mama!" and without even a pause she put up her one free hand and hollered back, "You're doing it, too, mama! You're amazing!" and then we both went our separate ways. It was such an empowering, fun, warming moment with a complete stranger - I love the camaraderie of motherhood and the dissipation of competition. We are all in this together and I am so grateful for my baby boys who have introduced me to my best life - full of love and wonder and the fight for this good gift of life.

So to all of you mamas out there - you're doing it! You're amazing! You got this.