How do thirteen weeks go by so fast? I thought about this the other day as I cried on the couch two days before the end of my maternity leave. I can’t remember any time in my life when thirteen weeks went by quickly. The last thirteen weeks of my pregnancy felt like an eternity, yet here I am with a 3 month old in what now feels like the blink of an eye. Other parents warned me how fast time would fly once having a baby, but I completely underestimated that.

It’s hard to believe that almost a year ago I was staring in shock at those two lines, filled with a range of emotions. I was excited, of course, but also scared at how life would change and also literally terrified to give birth. From that moment, everything did change and in the best way. From that moment, my daughter has been with me every second. Every action has been taken with her best interests in mind, even before she was here with me earth-side, and it will continue to be that way forever.

As I reflect back on some of the most challenging and rewarding weeks of my life thus far, I’ve been thinking about the transformation a woman goes through both physically and mentally during this experience. The day we left the hospital I told my husband, “that was the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done,” That sentiment still carries true as I navigate being a new mother. Those initial weeks are no joke! I spent many days and nights worrying about every choice I made, feeling the mom guilt early on. I would be lying if I said there weren’t some tears shed. I suppose that’s natural. Not only was I devoting every second to figuring out the best way to care for our daughter, but my body was still healing, and my hormones were all over the place. It’s amazing how quickly the newfound mom guilt creeps in, or maybe not, considering the world we live in today where parents love to judge each other. I was agonizing over every decision, and it wasn’t until my husband said “Who cares? Is our daughter healthy and safe? Is she happy? Are you happy? Those are the only things you need to worry about.” Simply put…just like that. Sometimes we just overcomplicate things for ourselves, right? I’ve realized that mom guilt will probably never go away, that it’s normal, but as we get into our rhythm and I watch our daughter thrive, I gain more confidence. I think that those feelings are actually a reflection of being a great parent. We care and just want to be the best we can for our children.

Speaking of confidence, how about that physical transformation? I think almost all women can agree that it’s easy to feel like a stranger in your own body during pregnancy and especially postpartum. If you’d have asked me 9 weeks ago, I would have said there was no way I’d ever feel “normal” again. The amazing thing is that our bodies are BUILT for this. I have truly never felt stronger or like such a warrior in my life. I look at my daughter everyday and am still in awe that I brought her here and that we went through that experience together. We should be proud of our bodies for that reason alone. That goes for any type of delivery. It’s all incredibly hard! Do I have some insecurities? Sure, who doesn’t? But, I now look at myself in the mirror and know that what I see is a result of a miracle. That I carried and brought forth LIFE.

I’ve been incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to spend these thirteen weeks discovering motherhood and bonding with our daughter, especially during a global pandemic. I realize that I am very fortunate to have had this much devoted time with her in a country where paid maternity leave is a privilege and not a right. Yet while I am aware of these things, the pain is still there. I am happy to return to a career that I love but equally consumed with guilt and sorrow over no longer spending all of my hours with her. That’s not to say that any of it is easy. Being a mother, a parent, is challenging regardless of the choices we make, whether it is to go back to work, be a stay-at-home parent, a work-from home parent. I commend you all.

These beautiful, blissful thirteen weeks have come to an end for my daughter and I, but they also symbolize the start of something new, and it reminds me of just how multi-faceted we are. We are so many things all at once, and we just learn the art of balance to be the best version of them all. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife, a businesswoman.

And in these thirteen weeks I became MOM.