Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and while the holiday is an opportune time to shower Mom with bouquets of flowers, sweet treats, and thoughtful cards, I’ve found myself reflecting on what motherhood is, and what it means to me. Being a mom has a way of changing one’s perspective on nearly everything; it becomes part of your core being, your identity. For me, when life feels overwhelming or work gets busy, my girls help me stay focused on what really matters. They are my world. When I talk to my daughters, all the little stressors I’ve encountered throughout the day, all the minor inconveniences or irritations, fade away, and I’m left with one resonant feeling: hope.
It gives me a certain hope for the future that I can raise two small humans who will be part of the next generation. That privilege means I get to influence what they bring into the world as they grow: things like kindness, patience, and resilience. My greatest hope is that, as their mom, I’ve modeled these qualities for them, and they’ll go out into the world and thrive.
“Being a mom has a way of changing one’s perspective on nearly everything... When I talk to my daughters, all the little stressors I’ve encountered throughout the day, all the minor inconveniences or irritations, fade away, and I’m left with one resonant feeling: hope.”
But even as I celebrate everything it means to be a mom and the hope I feel in raising my girls, I have to admit that the road to motherhood was not easy, and that the hope I feel was hard won.
The experience of pregnancy and delivery with my first daughter was what I would describe as pretty typical. Everything went more or less according to plan, and for that, I’m grateful. But with my second daughter, my expectations for another “typical” pregnancy and delivery crumbled at 30 weeks, when my water broke and I was admitted to the hospital for antepartum care. A few days later, my daughter was born and was immediately whisked away to the NICU, while I stayed in the hospital to heal from delivery. That raw feeling of being a new mom and not having my baby with me is a wound that I carry to this day. Sitting there in my hospital bed, my mind raced, not knowing if my daughter would be okay, if she’d thrive, if she’d live.
The day I left the hospital, I felt empty, hollow. Leaving the hospital without my baby, I had the distinct, lingering feeling in my bones that what I was living wasn’t the natural order of things.
The days and weeks afterward melted into a collective memory of overwhelming fatigue and anxiety, but also of singular focus. Through the exhaustion, I was focused on getting my daughter what she needed. The ultimate outcome of this experience was, for me, a sturdy, unyielding resilience. It was a pivotal life moment, one that taught me that if I could survive it, I could survive anything. After that point, I experienced a sort of tectonic shift in the way I perceived motherhood and raising my girls. I wanted them to know that we are never products of our circumstances. I realized that my priorities had shifted, and I had more perspective on what really mattered. To this day, as long as my girls are healthy, safe, and happy, I feel like I’m doing right by them.
The resilience I developed on my journey to motherhood has carried me through the hardest times of my life, and it guides me forward today as a professional, as a person, and as a mom.
This Mother’s Day, it’s my wish that this story reminds other moms of your own strength, and that the resilience from your past is eclipsed only by your hope for the future.
About the Author
Danielle Barry is Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Valley Children’s Healthcare. Danielle joined Valley Children’s in 2011 and has served in leadership roles in a variety of areas, including revenue cycle management and patient accounting. A member of Valley Children’s Patient and Family Centered Care Committee and the mother of a neonatal intensive care unit graduate, Danielle serves as a parent advocate and feels passionate about contributing to Valley Children’s efforts to provide the best patient experience. In her free time, Danielle enjoys spending time with her two daughters on their farm and traveling anywhere near the ocean.