With celebrating Mother’s Day, I wanted to share my journey to Motherhood. My story of becoming a mother didn’t have the smoothest start, yet it is my firm belief that the experiences I faced, molded me into the woman I am today. I was often told as a kid that bad things can happen in life and there isn’t a lot that can be done to shelter you from the trials that come from it. However, I know that how you face and respond to those moments of adversity are what ultimately define you as an individual. Mothers are excellent examples of this, facing new trials daily whether it be our own, or ones that our wee ones face. More often than not, mothers seem to push through whatever may come with unwavering warmth, being driven by the love they have for those they care for. This makes women powerful in my eyes, and an admirable trait which I looked up to and strived to hold since I was young.
Ever since I was a little girl, I knew with absolute certainty that I would be a mother. I loved holding babies, and I loved playing with kids whether they were older or younger than me. I was that kid in the nursery or daycare holding babies until their mother came to get them. I was the kid that was on call for babysitting and enjoyed every minute of it. Taking care and nurturing others was something that naturally came to me. That ability, along with the example of service from my mother, gave me knowledge of how to serve others around me and lead me to my passion for teaching. I knew my soul became full when building young minds, and there was no doubt in my heart that becoming a mother would be the most important work of my life.
As a child, it was easy to imagine the happiness of motherhood. However, as an adult seeking to become a parent, my eyes were opened to some unforeseen trials of starting a family. I have also discussed in a previous post my insecurities I faced as a teenager growing into adulthood, which were still in place at this time. All of these were impacted for the better by two life changing gifts I received from having my three amazing boys. They shifted my perspective of how I viewed and valued my body and the unexpected power I have as a woman to instill an example of self worth in my son’s lives.
This journey started about a year into my marriage. My husband and I decided it was a good time to start growing our family. I was almost done with school, he found a better job, and we were both confident in our abilities to raise a child as a couple. Two months before our first year anniversary, I found out I was pregnant. A month later we attended an open house in my hometown to celebrate our wedding and in our excitement prematurely included news of our upcoming addition to our close family members. I was eight weeks at the time and completely over the moon, until the morning of the open house when I discovered I was bleeding heavily. A day that was supposed to be joyful quickly spiraled downwards, as my husband and I left for the hospital only to discover I had lost the baby. I was completely heartbroken from losing something so precious, and my mind tried to comprehend the reality, as my body was facing physical hardship. After leaving the hospital and arriving to our party late, I went in my room and bawled for as long as I would allow myself. When I got everything out, I put on my smile, went downstairs and greeted my loved ones who came to support me for the happy occasion.
A few months later, I became pregnant once again. Having faced the previous miscarriage, my husband and I agreed we wouldn’t tell anyone about the pregnancy. We were cautious, but still filled with hope and optimism for the new life growing inside me. About ten weeks in, I miscarried again. I remember everything, because it happened during finals week while I was still in college. I went into the testing center in complete pain from cramping, and realized by the end of my test that I miscarried. I walked home that night in tears, and shared the news with my husband who held me as I wept.
The next morning, I wasn’t well at all. In my life, I had always been able to overcome trials with my sheer lightheartedness and optimism, but never had I felt such a strong weight on my heart as I did that morning. Every thought that came to my mind would trigger my tear ducts. It got to the point where I broke down on the floor, crying and wailing, hoping that my tears would take all of the pain out of my body with them. My mind went to dark places asking questions like: Why? Was there something wrong with my body? Was I ill? Did something happen to the baby? Why couldn’t my body hold onto the pregnancy? Is it something I did? Could I have saved the life inside me? What if I never could bring a baby to term? What if this happens again? Will I never become a mother?
My mind was completely overcome with emotion. It took me a couple hours to finally calm down, and come to terms that there was nothing I could have done to prevent losing both babies. However, even as I calmed myself, thoughts of my body preventing me from becoming a mother still plagued me. Realizing that I wasn’t finding the comfort I needed, I resorted to what I have done my whole life in times of crisis. Something that today, can be taken for granted; I got down on my knees and prayed. This wasn’t a reverent prayer. I was frustrated and hurt. I cried and yelled out everything weighing on my heart. All the pain from my two losses, the fear and pain my husband and I felt, and my questions and doubts about my physical well being. What began in heartache and frustration, ended with a calm reassurance that I was sincerely loved and that my words were heard. I needed to trust myself and trust that in time, the desire to build my family would be realized, and physically I would be ready to handle it. I will never forget that moment, it was as if the burden and weight my fears had placed on me over the course of that year had been instantly lifted from my heart. In place of agony, I was left with an overwhelming sense of peace and love. My heart had recovered enough to have patience and move forward.
My husband and I decided we would no longer plan to have a baby. We decided to release that burden and trust that things would happen at the right time. A month later I became pregnant once again. With each passing week, we took it one step at a time, still uncertain of the future. Then we heard his heartbeat. At that moment we knew he was real and here to stay. That was solidified when two months later we saw his profile for the first time in an ultrasound. Then the life altering moment came after fourteen hours of labor and hemorrhaging lots of blood. I saw my husband holding his son for the first time, relief and joy washed over my past sufferings. I will never forget that moment. Holding that precious little boy was everything my mind and body had endured mountains of pain to arrive at. He had my entire heart in his tiny little hands.
Since then, I have had two more little boys come into my life. Each one precious and unique in their own way. Each time, I wondered how it was possible for me to open my heart any more, but with each new child, my heart made more space. My love has grown exponentially. I had never known what it was truly like to feel such infinite love, but holding each baby has brought me a step closer.
Each pregnancy, although difficult, revealed how strong I was mentally and physically. I started to see the inner workings of what it meant to grow a life. Each week as I grew bigger, I would read about all the bones and organs I was creating. I realized how amazing it was that my body knew how to do something it had never done before. When I faced labor, it was physically exhausting, but I accomplished it. Every tiny little detail from the baby’s first breath to nursing my child, my body fought through everything and continued to demonstrate the hidden strength I hadn’t known was in me. It made my worries I had previous to my pregnancies feel so insignificant compared to what my body could overcome. That was the start of me understanding and appreciating the miracle that my body is.
I didn’t fully comprehend this miracle until my eldest son told me something one day that caught me completely by surprise. I was having a rough day, and tears were falling down my face. I hadn’t felt like myself for a while, and a lot of it was rooted in the lack of confidence I felt in my body. My son was three at the time, and he walked over, gave me a hug and said, “Mom, why are you crying?” I told him I just didn’t feel very pretty today, and to my surprise he responded. “But I think you are the most beautiful person in the world.” Cue the tears. I hugged that wonderful child so tight his eyes nearly popped out of his face. I asked myself, why is it that this little boy can see my value and I can’t? Why wasn’t my mind catching up with how amazing I was to my boys?
This was the life changer, ladies and gents. That was the moment I saw myself through my children’s eyes. I don’t have daughters yet, I only have sons. However, I am the first example of a woman my sons have in their life. I needed to live up to the woman that they saw in me. I wanted to be the standard that my boys would strive to live up to, and find for themselves in a life partner. I was only going to accomplish that through genuinely loving myself.
My boys have truly made me into the woman I am today. They make me better every single day. To all the mothers out there, you mean more to your children than you realize. You are beautiful. You are powerful. Most importantly, you are loved tremendously. Being a mother is difficult. We are tasked with nurturing and teaching the future, and that is no small feat. Our work is tedious, stressful, and sometimes makes us wonder if what we do is really making any impact. I can say with a surety that what you do has meaning. The influence you have creates a ripple effect for generations to come. This calling is not just to mothers, but also to any and every woman. Remember to love and respect yourself at your worst and best. Remember to have patience with the things you feel weak in. Because at the end of the day, what you do means everything to the lives you have the opportunity to touch. And if you ever forget your worth, try looking at yourself through a child’s eyes.