And here is what motherhood means to me:
As a young adolescent, I found myself drawn to children. As an avid babysitter and Sunday School teacher, I could see that the best source of unbridled, selfless positive energy and love was from young admirers. Two children I babysat loved it when I sang to them as they fell asleep. My sister and I watched the girls across the street overnight so that their parents could go away for the weekend. (Those girls are now mothers and my Facebook friends.) I wanted to be a teacher of emotionally disturbed children when I grew up (and now I work with engineers…hmm…).
I always planned to be a mom. If need be, I would find a sperm donor to help me reach my aim if no dream husband appeared. Fortunately, I did not have to resort to that.
What I did have to resort to was gentle encouragement of my dream husband. After marrying at 25, by the time 30 loomed I knew we should start trying to have a baby. My writer husband, however, wanted to wait until he reached literary success before starting a family. (I can understand why he felt that way, given the fact that he is the stay-at-home dad and fatherhood has cramped his writing style. On the other hand, on his schedule we might have waited too long.) My tactic is to plant the seed and be patient, waiting for it to grow. His first reaction was anxiety. It took only a few weeks until he came around.
Trying becomes less fun and much more stressful when it takes a year and a half to get pregnant. When Christopher was born at just 24 weeks gestation (weighing 1 lb, 9 oz. and measuring 11 inches), he was given a 50 percent chance of dying…and if he survived, a 50 percent chance of major disabilities. He survived 117 long, agonizing days in the NICU, including three surgeries, several life-threatening crises, and daily struggles to live. Worst of all, we could not hold him for six weeks. Just before Christmas, he came home on oxygen and multiple medications. I remember the day when he finally came off oxygen and we could move around the house freely, holding our beloved miracle baby in our arms—wire free!
|Our finally wire-free, first miracle baby (at 9 months, or 5 months adjusted)|
|New addition to the family|
|First day home|
|With my sister before birth|
|Our third little boy|
|The whole crew|
I view each one of my sons as miracles: Chris, for obvious reasons; Kieran, who finally appeared after four miscarriages and several years; and Nicholas, conceived when I was 41, still nursing Kieran, and so clearly NOT TRYING.
|Surrounded by testosterone|
|March for Babies, last weekend|