Written by Kari
My oldest child is going to turn 11 in a few weeks. My youngest should be born in less than two weeks. This morning I found myself contemplating my experience of motherhood, and as I looked forward to beginning the journey of a new baby, I was thinking back to the moment I first felt like a mother....
I did not feel like a mother when Tim and I decided, 14 months after our wedding, to forgo our original plan of being married for several years before having children. I had met a woman at work, who was my age and had a two year old daughter. After talking to her I realized I, too, could have a baby if I wanted. Having a baby sounded like so much fun. When I mentioned to Tim I was thinking about it he agreed to try for a month or two and if I did not get pregnant to go back to our original plan of waiting a few years. I felt a mixture of emotions when four weeks after our conversation I was holding a pregnancy test with two pink lines! I felt overwhelming fear, shock and excitement all at once, but I did not really feel like a mother yet.
As Tim and I spent the next nine months preparing for our new baby my excitement grew and my fear faded, at least a little. I worked as a manager at a children's clothing store and I enjoyed choosing little yellow and green baby outfits (we decided not to find out baby's sex ahead of time) and tiny little socks and hats while I was working. I was surrounded by babies and new mothers, and though I talked to them about their experiences I did not feel like one of them yet. Preparing for our baby felt more like playing house. Nevertheless, we shopped for and decorated the baby's room. We poured through baby name books. I counted kicks like my pregnancy book suggested. I talked and read to the baby. My family threw me 2 baby showers, and Tim took pictures monthly of my growing belly. He and I dealt with my mood swings and unpredictable emotions. Though it should have all felt very real, I still had trouble picturing us with a baby of our own.
When my due date came and went without any sign of impending labor it confirmed my doubts that Tim and I would ever really be parents. For five long days I waited for contractions to begin. They never did! On the sixth day past my due date, at about 5 am, my water finally broke. We headed to the hospital and waited some more for contractions, but again they never came! The doctor suggested helping things along with pitocin. It wasn't until about 10:30 am that the labor pains began. All through that day, with the help of more and more pitocin, I made very slow but steady progress. At about 9 pm, the doctor said it was time to push. At last, we were going to meet our new baby. Baby must have been as unsure about our parenting qualifications as I was, because it took another three hours before we got to experience the moment we had been waiting so long for. But thankfully, at 11:49 pm, our beautiful healthy baby girl was born! As I looked at her for the very first time....I still did not feel like a mother! I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I had been convinced we were having a baby boy. And I had pictured, as I had bonded with my unborn baby for so long, a little miniature me, with dark hair and brown eyes. This little squirming baby girl had light brown peach fuss covering her head, and from what we could tell, her eyes were a bright blue. She looked just like her daddy, nothing at all like me, and I felt strangely disconnected from her. In those first few moments, motherhood was nothing like I had imagined. They gave me the baby and I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do.
It was not until a few hours after her birth, when a new nurse came in, introduced herself and said, "I am going to be taking care of your daughter today." that it hit me. I had a daughter! This was my baby. And I think, maybe just a tiny bit of me, understood for the first time that motherhood was not going to be about me and my fun. It was going to be about my daughter. And whether or not I was ready or qualified she was here.
Was it the pregnancy that made me feel a mother? Was it the nearly 19 hours of labor and delivery? Not really. I think, more than anything, it was that realization that I was responsible for someone else. My daughter was going to depend on me for everything- her health, her safety, her education. Her life was truly in my hands and I had to rise to the challenge, even when it was not fun at all.
Motherhood has been an amazing adventure so far. It is almost never easy and, though there are still days I want it to be about me, it never is. Yet, it is an adventure I feel eternally grateful to God for allowing me to take. My oldest daughter is growing up to be such a wonderful young lady, and though I can take very little credit for that, I am thankful that God has blessed with a front row seat for it. Now, as I look forward to welcoming my new baby daughter I pray that God will again, help me rise to the challenge. Though I still feel unqualified most of the time, I thank Him daily for the gift of this latest journey in parenthood...
I am a Catholic wife and home schooling mother of 5. I willingly admit that I define myself by my vocation. I do not feel at all diminished as a person to be “only” a wife and mother. I am proud to have a wonderful family to serve and care for. It is enough for me. It is what I've always wanted. It is where I serve God and come to know Him better each and everyday. In addition to my family and my faith, I am also passionate about writing. The blogging world has allowed me the privilege and blessing of bringing together all my passions.