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!
Still a Work in Progress
When I was “younger” I knew I wanted to have children eventually, but I never dreamed about it. I didn’t daydream about holding a sweet-smelling baby or making my own baby food. I didn’t imagine much…except wonder if they would look like me. That prospect excited me. I was however in love with the “idea” of being pregnant. How I would feel, look, and behave. I was in love with the “idea” of having children. Here’s the deal…I wasn’t even really good with children or so I thought (we’re our own worst critics). Yes I worked in a daycare as work/study in college, yes, I wrote my senior thesis on baby talk, yes, I quit my designing job to become a full-time nanny in NYC to an adorable 1-year-old, and yes I have an incredibly colorful imagination that allows me to entertain kids for hours. But at the end of the day, I always breathed a sigh of relief when I got to go home, kick my feet up on our battered futon, and eat take out with my boyfriend (now husband). “Thank GOD we don’t have kids right now” is what I would often say on a regular basis. After we got married, honeymooned, and started our “adult” life I figured it was time to have kids. I even started to get that weird biological yearning. It seemed like part of the life-cycle equation was talking to me and I couldn’t ignore the pulling of my proverbial apron strings. I started mapping out my ovulation times and keeping score in a date book. It was all very practical and rational. It took us one time to get pregnant with Henry. Yes, you are reading this correct: ONE. TIME. You can imagine my husband’s dismay that we wouldn’t need to keep “trying” for months on end. I know that it took one time because the summer I got pregnant my husband was living in a different city so our “visits” were few and far between.
So yes, one time. And yes, I consider myself very fortunate that this happened so quickly. My parents struggled for years to have me and I know how painful that process was for them. And some of my dear friends and family have too struggled. So know that I count myself lucky. The day I found out I was pregnant I woke up, hung over from a girls night out, still wearing my clothes from the night before. The hangover didn’t go away and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I mean no one gets pregnant on the first try…right? So I marched myself over to the drug store to buy a pregnancy test. Lo and behold, a faint positive line showed up. Since we had “tried” only one time I just couldn’t believe it. I marched myself back to another drugstore and then another store and bought several tests…like 5 boxes of tests. I went to different drugstores to buy them because I didn’t want the clerk to judge me for buying 5 tests in one batch. I laugh about this often because now that I’m a mother not much embarrasses me anymore. I took every single test and each came up with a faint positive line. Since my husband was working in NYC and I was living in Chicago, I took pictures of all the tests and sent them to him. “What do you think? Does this look positive?”
And that’s how I became a mother.
But wait there’s more… the above story looks good on paper. It’s all very text book. It’s a fun story to tell. But when my child was born in the middle of the night after 18 hours of labor and forceps birth, I didn’t FEEL like a mother. I didn’t have this animalistic instinct to wrap him and hold him up like that character does in the Lion King and proclaim, “the cirrrccle of life.”
I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Most days I still don’t.
But there’s this feeling that I have and it’s been building since the first day my child was born. Thru the self-doubt, the guilt, the little triumphs, temper tantrums, toothy smiles, and milestones I have cultivated this spark within me. I love my kids. Oh boy, do I love them. And that raging wild-fire that burns within me is a reminder of my motherhood. Did I fall in love with the little beating heart I saw on the first sonogram…not really. Did I love my son when he first came out? Yes. But was it the kind of love that I now regularly feel—the kind that keeps me up at night and causes me to have mild anxiety attacks if I think too much about his future? No. I often wonder if what makes us mothers (or fathers) is not necessarily what we do every day but rather, how we feel. Anyone can “do” the job of a parent. But not everyone can feel what we feel on a regular basis—this is a special gift that defines us. What a beautiful gift that has been bestowed upon us to be able to wake up each morning and feel more love for your children than you did the day before. Over the last six years I have wrestled with what it means to be a mother. How do I identify myself as a mother when every mother is different from each other? And when I think about how I became a mother I really don’t think about one defining moment…
Oh Heather, I love, love, love this. You are brilliant and funny and an amazing writer. You are able to put to words things that are so difficult to give words to.
Your kids and hubby are lucky. More and more, every day. 🙂
I totally *get* what you mean about the evolving motherness…I feel so much more like a mom now than I did when the twins were born. My love for them then was unconditional, but uninformed of who they were to become and the relationship we were to build. There was a generic-ness about it. The love I have for them now is like an ocean that would flood out of me and drown them if I let it slip out. And my mom-ness is more confident and nuanced. Great post.
Also, did you work at Otter Creek?? I did too! I can’t remember you there but then I have blocked out a lot of college…