I have been ridiculously sentimental lately. Watching Bonnie grow, and experiencing how quickly time is whizzing by, I’m finally starting to understand that life truly is fleeting. Our entire lives are but a breath in the face of eternity.
Bonnie fell asleep in my arms yesterday afternoon, which is something she rarely does anymore. As I watched her tiny, perfect form, I was overwhelmed, as I so often am, by my love for her. Tears sprung to my eyes as I reflected on the 7 and a half months of joy she’s brought into my life, and the change she’s brought to my heart.
Motherhood changes you. It’s so hard to explain, but it just does.
Pregnancy after infertility is its own kind of weird and wonderful experience. You worry about every little thing that does or does not happen, especially during the first several months. You Google anything and everything pregnancy related. You also Google things that aren’t related to pregnancy at all, because you think they might be.
You experience separation anxiety from your fertility clinic, and mistrust the regular OB-GYN whose office you sit in monthly, and then bi-monthly, and then weekly. You mistrust the regular OB-GYN because a regular OB-GYN is the one who told you, years ago, that a couple rounds of Clomid would do the trick, or just to be patient, or that you were young and had plenty of time to conceive. Not only do you mistrust him, but you feel completely out of place sitting in his waiting room with all the “regular” pregnant women… the ones who did not exhaust their savings accounts or go into debt in order to conceive a child; the ones who did not go to bed in tears at the end of every unsuccessful two week wait; the ones who did not avoid baby showers for fear of having a public breakdown.
So you don’t feel like you belong at the regular ol’ OB’s office, but you don’t really belong at your fertility clinic either. In fact, they kind of kicked you out after you passed the 8 week mark. They called it a graduation, and acted really excited for you, and you felt thrilled to be moving on, but now, several weeks down the road, you’re having withdrawals, and wondering why in the world your fantastic RE cannot just deliver your baby for you. You even consider popping in for a visit, because you’re comfortable there, and because those every-other-day blood draws had actually become a security blanket for you. But then you re-consider, because you know you no longer belong there either.
Then, on your way home from your regular ol’ OB-GYN appointment, instead of popping in for a visit with your RE, you decide to stop into Target. While browsing through the home decor aisles, looking for nothing in particular, you happen to notice about half a dozen pregnant women. Your first instinct is one of sadness, self-pity and jealousy: why can’t that be me?
And then you realize, it is you. Because you’re pregnant. It’s still a bit early. You are still taking those darned progesterone shots, and you are still more used to wishing you are pregnant than actually being pregnant. You have the same Target epiphany over and over and over again, and finally, you’re walking around Target at nine months pregnant, still having to remind yourself that you are kind of like all those other pregnant women walking around Target.
But then, the nine months pass. You give birth, which is one of the most incredible experiences of your life. And you are suddenly a mother.
You eventually realize being a mother is hard. The sleepless nights, the midnight nursing sessions, the midday naps and cuddles… pure bliss. Truly.
But your newborn grows, and grows, and keeps growing, and your heart keeps growing with her, until you feel like it is going to burst out of your chest. All. The. Time. Your baby sleeps through the night, but you don’t, because you can’t help but wake up every two hours just to check on her (even though you keep a video monitor by your bed as proof that she’s okay.) Your baby only wants to cuddle when she’s nursing, and even then sometimes, she’d rather be playing on the floor (or anywhere but your lap.) It sometimes takes you an hour to get out the door for what turns out to be a disastrous attempt at grocery shopping, cut short by an explosive dirty diaper, or an over-tired baby. Your baby fights all of her naps for weeks straight before you finally realize it’s time to undergo some drastic version of sleep training. Sleep training eventually translates into “no more letting your baby nap peacefully on your chest multiple times each day.” Talk about heart-wrenching.
And then there’s the messiness of it all: dirty diapers, baby led weaning (which is totally fun and worth the mess), spit up, throw up. Have you ever smelled bad breast milk? It’s really not pleasant. Especially when it’s all over the shirt you’ve been wearing for the past three days.
You realize it’s only going to get harder and messier as your child grows. You will look back one day on sleep training and realize that it was no big deal compared to other lessons and disciplines you will have to teach your child. You will have days when you long for messy diapers, and high chairs smeared with mashed green beans. You will continue to fall into bed exhausted after hard days of hard lessons. But even on those days, you will go to bed knowing that it is so worth it. Every second is worth it.
Being a mom is hard. It’s messy. But you still idealize it in the same ways you did when you were just wishing to be a mom. It’s just as amazing in real life as it was in your daydreams.
Suddenly, you aren’t as tempted to compare the details of how you became a mom to the details of how fellow Target shoppers became moms. You are able to smile at them, and only fleetingly wonder about the details of how their children came to be. You remember what you went through to become a mother, but you don’t remember with bitterness or anger or jealousy. The pain has already begun to fade. You rub your backside, to see if you can still feel a tender hint of swelling from all those months of shots. But even that has faded. You remember with utter gratitude. You remember, and then you look at the little wiggle worm sitting in your shopping cart, and you realize that, not only was it worth it, but it was really quite perfect.
All of it.
Because at the end of the day, you’re a mom. The details of how you became a mom don’t matter quite so much these days. You’re a mom. And in all its hardness, messiness, and tiredness, you still continue to idealize motherhood, because it is a gift from God… the gift you begged of Him for so long.
It is an integral part of what you were created for.
Into the home of the childless
bride, He sends children who are, for her, a cause of happiness beyond measure. Praise the Eternal!
-Psalm 113:9, The Voice translation