BurlingtonVT Moms Blog is partnering with Vermont Midwives Association to bring you our latest series titled “How I Became a Mother” in honor of Mother’s Day. Each of us has a unique journey on how we got here…here being in this crazy thing called motherhood. Some of us have grown our families through adoption, some through donor sperm. Some of us have struggled with infertility while others of us have needed to rely on faith and science. Bringing a child into this world is no less than miraculous regardless of how it’s done. These next two weeks we want to share with you the stories of how we became mothers, to let you know that no two families are born the same. Join us on this journey as we celebrate Moms!
Before I went through this whole “creating life” mind/body/spirit-trip, I really didn’t know where I stood on things like God and religion. I’ve always gone my own way with such things, processing the plethora of opinions, websites, podcasts with an overwhelming amount of information; trusting my gut, following my heart. I am mostly Christian, I suppose, but very Liberal, with some other schools of thought blended in. And I’ll be the last person to preach to you about which way you should go, what you should believe, as I think we’re all on our own journey, each one unique, special, solely ours to cherish and grow.
But I also can’t write about the “creating life” process without sharing my own spiritual experience with you. So, I’ll try to give you the facts, the details about how we began the journey of creating a new human being, and then I’ll let you decide if it was all just coincidence. I’m still not sure.
I knew I wanted to be a mother since I was a little girl. I just knew in my heart that was my path. Financially, my husband and I knew we couldn’t afford it. We were (and are) living in a small, 2-bedroom apartment, but we knew that we wanted kids someday, and we eventually got tired of waiting for our lives to be in some “perfect” state of organization and financial stability.
I got pregnant right away and was a nervous wreck. I’ve always struggled with anxiety. Soon after, I felt something wasn’t right, but all preliminary tests pointed to a healthy pregnancy, and I tried to convince myself that all would be okay. At 12 weeks, I miscarried and was completely devastated.
My life, my dreams, all my hard work, everything seemed to be falling apart, and I couldn’t understand why. I felt I had been strong in my faith (at least what I knew faith to be), a good person throughout my life, so I just couldn’t comprehend why God, or any higher being, would put me through this.
The night before I miscarried, I had a strange dream. An elderly woman holding hands with a small child led me outside to an abandoned underpass in the shade. She told me to turn around. When I did, my son was standing in front of me. He was all grown up, and he said, “You don’t need to worry about me any more.” He hugged me, said he had to go, and walked away.
This was the start of my healing process, and more dreams would come as I struggled with this loss. Still, months later, I didn’t even want to think about trying again for another baby. I felt hopeless and not ready to experience another heartbreak. I felt weak. I just wanted to know so badly that I could be a mother, that this was my calling.
All of a sudden, two baby birds flew out of the bushes and flew right by my feet. I jumped. “That doesn’t count!” I said to myself and kicked some dirt. Then the mother bird flew out of the bushes and right into my face. “Ahh!!” I screamed, waving my arms, and dancing around like a maniac.
“Okay, maybe that counts.” I fixed my sweater and looked around to make sure no one saw that I just got mugged by a robin. I smiled.
That night, I had another weird dream. I just heard a voice. It said, “I will send you a promise. A rainbow.” When I woke up, I reasoned with God, “Okay, Big Guy, I get it. I know my basic Bible stories. After the flood, the rainbow comes… a symbol of hope, yadda yadda yadda… So what. I’m sure I’ll see a rainbow this summer. I see one every summer.”
And the next day I spent my morning moping on the sofa, watching reality TV. Finally, on a commercial break, I stretched out on the couch and looked outside the window.
I jumped off the couch. Stretching across the morning sky was the biggest, brightest rainbow I’ve ever seen. I grabbed my shoes and ran outside. Other people were doing the same. It was just so beautiful. I continued my conversation with God, “Okay, well that’s impressive.”
But it wasn’t just that. Everywhere I went, people offered words of encouragement, left flowers for me, shared their own stories of loss and struggles to have babies. It was the hope and support I needed. Every day after, every time I woke up in the morning and thought, “I just can’t fight this fight one more day,” it would be another ‘beautiful-rainbow’ day. I saw more rainbows that summer than I had ever seen in my life. Huge rainbows. Bright rainbows in the morning, faded ones in the afternoon. Rainy days, sunny days, it didn’t matter. There was one above me at least once a week.
I’d walk into an antique shop and find a rainbow pin or a rainbow hat. I went to my sister’s house, and found that my niece had covered the dining room table with what she perceived to be “failed” attempts at rainbow drawings. A sea of them stretched out before me and took my breath away.
Was it just coincidence? Was I just more aware of that symbol in my life? Did I subconsciously search for it? Maybe.
I felt more hope than ever, but I still cried. I cried to my husband, Mark, to my friends. Mark is an introvert, but when he pops out of his shell and offers some advice, it’s usually good advice, so I listened closely as he told me, “Don’t be scared. This is just part of the journey. We know now, with certainty, that this is what we want. We will have a baby.”
This was the turning point in my thinking. I was not helpless. I was not a victim. I was empowered. I would have a baby or adopt or do something. Anything. But most importantly, I wouldn’t give up. “Okay, what’s the next step?” I thought. “We try again.”
I didn’t want to think about trying again. I just wanted to slowly ease back into the idea of it, but my friend and (pregnant) coworker started subtly tracking my cycle. I’d walk over to her desk in the afternoon to visit, and she’d grab her calendar.
“Oooh, feeling romantic tonight??” she’d laugh.
“Are you asking me out on a date?”
“Ha! No. Tonight would be a good night to… make a baby!” she’d tease.
Sometimes, I think your friends know you better than you know yourself. Of course I wanted to try again, but I still felt somewhat stuck in that “failure” funk, where the soundtrack is a long series of “What ifs” and “I can’ts.” I also felt something new this time — the feeling that I didn’t want this moment to pass by. A monthly opportunity that I didn’t want to wait another 30 days for.
I suppose I can “yadda-yadda” over this part. I got pregnant again, about 2 years after the miscarriage. I had some of the same minor complications with this pregnancy as I did with the first, but this time we got to hear a heartbeat, see her roll over, grow. I felt her in my arms long before she was born. We saw her come into this world and completely take over our lives.
She was born in January, after a 4-day long ice storm. That morning, a new nurse came in to check my daughter’s car seat and prepare us for the ride home.
She went to my daughter’s bassinet and said to her softly, as if Mark and I weren’t even in the room: “Ellie, it’s a beautiful day to go home. There’s a winter rainbow in the sky — a sun dog.” A rainbow is God’s promise that everything will be okay.”
I saved this photo from the WCAX news website where they had a story about the beautiful, winter rainbow, that greeted us the day we brought my daughter home from the hospital.