Infertility was never a part of my plan.
I’ve always been slightly obsessed with babies. From an early age, you could have seen me wandering around my house and the neighborhood with a Bitty Baby, you know, the one from American Girl, strapped to my chest. My parents must have figured this was a sign that I needed siblings because they quickly had nine more children and until I left for college, my arms always had a baby to hold. When I got married at the ripe young age of twenty-one, I couldn’t wait to start a family of my own.
Recently my son Jackson and I were taking advantage of an unseasonally warm Sunday afternoon with one of his favourite activities; water play in the backyard. I watched, bemused, as he entertained himself with endless pouring from cup to bucket to water table, then back up into the cup to continue the cycle. The water mesmerizes him. He can play with water for hours, soaking himself from head to toe until he begins to shiver violently, and even then he screams in protest when I bundle him up in a soft towel and carry him inside to recover in a warm bath.
Some days are not so good and I’m not the best mother on those days. Some days I don’t deserve to be your mother. But my prayer is that you won’t remember these days and you will never doubt how much I love you…
Two of my least favourite terms in the whole world are pre-baby body and post-baby body. Google ‘pre-baby body’ and you get an astounding 13 000 000 results. ‘Post-baby body’ is even worse, coming in at 50 000 000 results. 63 000 000 results in total, most of them dedicated to showing you the way to have a fabulous post-baby body. We live in a society where it has become a badge of honour if you can erase pregnancy from your body as quickly as possible. Celebrities lead the way of course and society follows dutifully, trying to live up to an image made possible only with personal trainers, chefs, rigorous schedules and of course good lighting, plastic surgery plus in many cases just plain old good genes.
Motherhood for me was a re-birthing into a self and a world that I couldn’t have predicted.
It is a world where everything has added significance, an importance beyond the immediate. I feel the weight of my mistakes heavier but the joys lift me higher than ever before. Even my skillset; that that in which I am strong I become stronger and that that in which I am weak becomes blaringly obvious.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” -Galatians 6:9
My mom, a saint who is still in the process of raising ten children, quoted this verse to me at least once a month throughout my upbringing. Homeschooling brought some unique challenges, one of which was not being affirmed in how her parenting choices were correct. Until I was in college, it was hard to see where I stood with my peers and how her parenting philosophies held up to time.
“He’s been sleeping through since 6 weeks”. My jaw dropped and my heart sank. I thought a baby that slept all night was a mythical creature- like a unicorn, or an Au Pair. I wanted to be happy for her, truly I did, but those words stung. I made mental swats at the self-doubts that began buzzing around my mind. I was coping with our sleep situation in my own way, but I was jealous.
I have been a mother for just over 6 and a half years. You would think that by now I have sorted through my thoughts and emotions about the biggest project I have ever undertaken. That by now I would feel confident in this enormous role and that I would be able to easily tell you what exactly motherhood means to me.