Six months into my pregnancy with my first child, I was busy running my own chiropractic practice as well as thinking about what I wanted to do once I had the baby. My whole adult life, I put most of my energy into my career, building a business, taking care of people, and doing what I love - to help people. Then, going into my 30s, getting married and starting my own family started to become a big desired goal. Still, with my career being a solid constant in my life, it was a comfortable place for me. After all, before a husband and kids, life was all about me and what I wanted to do at any time, any moment. (Such a luxury!)
As my pregnancy continued into my third trimester, my heart shifted much stronger into focusing on becoming a mother. AlI could think about was being a mom. My heart wasn't into practicing anymore. The first six months of my pregnancy, I had intended to find an associate to work for me for the first three months of my maternity leave. But this turned out to be a frustrating and difficult situation. There were several people who came in to be interviewed, but sadly no one who represented similar values, philosophy, and ambition turned up. The energy and time it took to find someone discouraged me, and made me realize how uninspiring it was to continue to run and own a practice. Knowing myself, my desires, and being aware of all the changes happening to me and my body, it suddenly dawned on me that closing my practice was what I really wanted to do.
I remember the moment I made that choice. It was like things lifted and then clicked into place. One door closed solidly (I knew I still had the key), and another door presented itself. That door was there, ready to be opened. There were many times during the end of my pregnancy that I envisioned myself just standing there, staring at a huge heavy door of solid thick material with a complex unlocking system. It wasn't comfortable being there. Even though I knew this was right for me, my discomfort was palpable, so much so that it scared me, gave me nervous butterflies, not knowing how I was going to proceed. My heart was completely certain, but my head still had so many questions.
I discussed it at length with my husband and we both were on the same page. He was very happy to support us fully, and I knew I was very lucky to not have to contribute to our team finances.
After my baby was born, it took me nearly eight months to feel comfortable in my new identity as a mother. The thing is, no one told me that this was a normal experience. Nothing I read explained to me that I'd probably go through a period of extreme doubt, confusion, loneliness, and even loss. Many times I found myself thinking,
"Who am I?"
"I don't know what I'm doing."
"I'm so lonely."
Often, when I was having a particularly tough day with my baby (hadn't showered all day, baby was fussy and crying, dealt with way too much vomit and poo all over my clothes, and exhaustion from a poor night's sleep), I'd find myself desperate for help, not knowing who or where to turn to.
Was I the only one going through this?
There was such a paradox of loving motherhood, being completely enamored by each moment as a mother, and then finding myself searching for more security in myself. It was as if my self-esteem fell out of me the moment my baby slid out of me and onto my chest.
My body was completely different, my boobs were enormous from the breastmilk, my clothes were a different size. I felt like a completely different person, which was a huge contrast from before I became a mother. Confidence was not an issue for me, even during those first few years of being a chiropractor. Motherhood put me in a completely new dimension.
That first year of motherhood was one of the most transformative years of my life. I discovered my strength and resilience (starting from the day I went into labor and had a natural drug-free 23-hour labor and birth). Then I discovered my highly-sensitive and mostly correct intuition as a woman, knowing when things were wrong for me and what was right. What shocked me was how much rage and anger could be triggered in me - exhaustion and hunger will bring a mother to that point. Several times. And then of course the love and the joy that I experienced together with my husband as we grew together in our little family of three. Words cannot describe the wonderful bursting feelings in my heart. It's true what they say about how it feels so good that it hurts.
Now, fast forward over 12 years and 2 more kids, now my world is so much more developed, molded, and established. And I still continue to experience growth every day. My confidence is expanded, yet different. My needs and desires have also shifted. One of the things that is very important to me is being in touch with my desires: being clear with what I want and allowing myself to listen to what I want. Not to push my needs and desires aside. Of course, that's easier said than done. Most of the time, my days are spent dealing with everyone and everything before I can turn my attention to myself. Those are dangerous days, especially if my needs are the last on my list - usually, whatever's last doesn't get attended to. The longer that goes on, the more destructive things in my life can get.
Today, I have a wonderful thriving home practice, I produce and create my own podcast about motherhood and family life, I have four cats, three kids, and a husband. What's not to love? (Let's be real here. Sometimes love is not in the air.) There's never a dull moment in my household.
When the saying, "You can have it all" comes up on my Facebook feed or some motivational guru exclaims that, to me it's not fair. It's not that simple. In my opinion, most of the time people have a hard time relating to that, or even believing it. Motherhood is the most challenging and complex thing in life. Being a mother these days isn't easy, especially when we put so much expectation on ourselves. We get so much pressure through social media, our families, our friends, and culture. But no one is harder on you than yourself.
What I've learned over the years is, who the hell cares what other people think? Really. Do what you want to do. Do what you love. Get in touch with your grit and strength. Get into action, and make things happen. And if anyone other than yourself gives you grief about going for what your heart tells you, tell them to stick it where the sun doesn't shine.
You can have it all. It just takes a lot of patience and time. Lots of it.
Dr MaryAnne Shiozawa lives in London with her husband and three children, two girls and a boy, and four cats. She creates and produces her own podcast called "You're Doing Great Mom". Her special interest is in pediatric and pregnancy chiropractic, and is passionate about helping new moms and babies live thriving healthy lives. She practices Network Spinal Analysis chiropractic and has been practicing for over 20 years.