“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell
My name is Nikki DeLoach and I am the mom of two incredible boys - Hudson and Bennett. So many people tell you what motherhood is going to look like, feel like, be like. We spend months preparing, researching, piecing together advice from every mom (or dad, grandparent, pastor, barista - literally anyone who will share) in our wake in preparation for the day we get to welcome our sweet one into the world. But life sometimes has a funny way of taking a blowtorch to our carefully constructed blueprint, leaving us standing in the unknown.Like many of you, my journey with motherhood has been the most important, rewarding, heart explosive experience of my life. It’s also been the most challenging. I’ve been brought to my knees so many times. With my first born, I suffered severe postpartum depression. I was in the deepest, darkest valley. I was scared and also devastated because I knew I would never get that first year back with my child. Over time, and with help, I was able to heal. I grew so much, and when I found out I was pregnant with baby number two, I was elated. I was also secretly terrified that postpartum would rear its ugly head again. So, like the type A person I am, I began to prep. This time I was going to be ready for it. However, no amount of groundwork could have prepared me for the news we received. At 5 1/2 months pregnant, I found out that my second son, Bennett, had multiple life-threatening heart defects and without immediate intervention at birth, he would not survive. And even if he did survive the birth and the surgery, we had no idea what other health repercussions these heart defects would create. I had never been so terrified in my life. This was certainly not in my birth plan. Bennett was born and had his first open heart surgery at five days old. He came home on oxygen for months. Weeks after his first birthday, he had his second open heart surgery. He is a miracle. He made it. We made it.
This was certainly not the mom experience I had dreamt about, nor could I have ever prepared for what I was up against. With that being said, the last six years have been the best of my life. Plus, even though Bennett has one more open heart surgery in his future, he is thriving and our family feels blessed beyond measure. There is so much I learned along the way. But there is one practice that truly change the way I experience life. I learned that it is not my job to move through life trying to be positive, strong, or having all the answers. It is my job to remain open. You see, if we can open ourselves up - which is hard because it means standing still in the pain, the exhaustion, the anger, the fear - that’s when the magic and the miracles happen. That’s the stuff that truly grows us. I’m a different person because of what I’ve been through. And the person I am today, I wouldn’t trade for anything. It’s made me a better friend, daughter, wife, person of faith, human, and of course, mom.
Thank you so much, March of Dimes, for the work that you are doing on behalf of woman and children in the world. And thank you for giving me an opportunity to share my story.