When I think of motherhood, I think of my mother and of my son. Last week I wrote a little bit about growing up with my mother. I say a little bit as even a book may not be big enough to encompass everything about our relationship and growth from children into adulthood. And so it is with my son. I was much older when I had him versus when my momma had me, but I’m sure I felt as much a fish out of water at my twenty-seven versus her fifteen years of age. I think the first birth, like everything else, is always the most challenging. There are so many unknowns about motherhood, and we just have to learn along the way on our own. (Just a bit of warning, this post has content you may not want to read. If so, just skip “The Birthing Experience” section.)
Prayers for at least One Child
As often happens with female reproductivity, except it isn’t talked about often enough, I think, by the time I got married and wanted to have a child, I wasn’t sure it would happen. I had difficult monthly cycles with severe cramps and nausea and uncomfortable other symptoms. At certain times, one might think I was pregnant, except that I wasn’t. Hubs and I eventually saw a fertility expert who discovered I had large cysts on my ovaries. I was given medication and within six months of our wedding, the cysts had dissolved and I was pregnant.
Because I had experienced so many months of discomfort and several months of disappointment, I didn’t know I was pregnant at first. Many of my initial symptoms simply told me, in my fearful mind, that the cysts had returned and I was doomed to life without children. On one particularly bad day when I actually threw up at work, I I told my husband I was going to see the doctor. He offered to join me. But knowing he had just gotten home from a long day at work, I told him to just stay home. I was certain this was a repeat of all my other doctor visits.
Just as with every visit to this specialist, I was given a pregnancy test. Imagine my surprise when I was told I was pregnant. I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock. Then, when I realized I had told my husband to stay home, after he had been with me for every appointment until then, I cried. The nurses were concerned until I explained. I said it was a good thing to be pregnant after months of trying, and I couldn’t be happier, but I was disappointed hubs wasn’t with me to hear this incredible news.
Amazingly, my pregnancy progressed without a hitch. I prayed day and night not to have a miscarriage and for my child to be born healthy, smart, and happy. I made all kinds of promises to God to give me a child – healthy preferably, but alive for sure, as I believed this was to be my only chance to conceive. I knew things were not, could not, be right with my reproductive organs, and I wanted at least one good pregnancy. Whereas, I had wanted to give my husband four healthy boys, I was now happy if I could be blessed with just one child. Yes, I prayed for either a girl or a boy, but I believed I would be happiest with a son – for me and for hubs. Being that I was still working through my relationship with my momma, I didn’t feel introducing a daughter into my life would be the best route for her.
Through the first four months of my pregnancy, there was the usual morning sickness. For me, it was bacon and eggs. And I love bacon and eggs! There was also the random loss of feeling in my legs starting at month four. And as I progressed along to months six, seven, and eight, I would feel a tightening in my belly and dull pain whenever I walked for short or long distances. Of course, walking is one of the best things an expecting mom can do for the health of herself and her unborn child. As I got closer to my due date, and the dull pain increased, I felt it wasn’t normal. I would ask friends and family if they’d felt the same symptoms. But theirs didn’t seem to include what I was describing. It wouldn’t be until months after our son was born that I would know what caused that dull ache or pain.
The Birthing Experience
My son was born two and a half weeks early, after seven weeks of intense discomfort. For one, I was huge. Having been hit with cravings for Pillsbury apple turnovers with yummy icing in my fifth month forward, and then with cravings for hamburgers every single day in my eighth month forward, well, you could say I looked like a blimp. I had gained fifty pounds. I’m sure the weight gain contributed as much to my pain and discomfort as being pregnant. I was only too happy to lose twenty of it within two weeks of giving birth, a sign I had had a lot of water retention.
My labor started early on a Wednesday morning, which was my obstetrician’s off day. After nineteen and a half hours, most of it at four centimeters, sucking on ice chips to keep from being dehydrated, and fighting against being given anything for pain, namely an epidural – out of fear and due to hearing so many horror stories, I gave birth to a healthy eight pounds, six ounces, miracle of a bouncing, screaming baby boy. I could not have been more amazed or proud of my body for conceiving, housing, and birthing such a miraculous being. Of course, it wouldn’t be for another year and another nine months later before we knew just how much of a miracle.
Once my son was weaned from nursing at six months, I started to experience the same symptoms I had prior to getting pregnant. Five months later, the doctor ordered a laparotomy to find out what was causing my symptoms and pain. It turns out that I had severe old scar tissue over the entire exterior of my uterus, a disintegrated left fallopian tube, and only two-thirds of a right ovary left after a large cyst was removed that a hysterectomy was recommended. However, because we wanted to try for another child, we waited only for me to have a complete hysterectomy nine months later. It was a sad time, but I have always been forever grateful for my one miracle child.
And my Child Grew
Our son has been our pride and joy. At six months old, he could have passed as a Gerber baby – and I’m not just saying that. He was a happy baby, independent, creative, and a deep thinker. As he grew, and learned how to make friends and get along with others, he showed an interest in art and math – and the banjo. In grade school, his drawing skills didn’t go unnoticed, and his art was often entered in competitions and featured in art shows.
From the time he was born, we went everywhere together. And it was while grocery shopping and eating out that I discovered the world didn’t revolve around me. It now revolved around my child. Everywhere we went people wanted to see the cute baby. Always being conspicuous myself, I soon realized I could fade into the background and let him be the star. It was a wonderful development.
During grade school and most of middle school, he and I would eat at our favorite restaurants, go to the movies together, and roam the malls – each visiting favorite shops alternatively. It was a wonderful time where I enjoyed every minute with my miraculous young man. We played board games and cards. He was my traveling companion. And he was a great help putting up and decorating our Christmas tree.
As he got older, he learned to charm me the way his dad could charm me. I was an easy mark for being talked into letting him spend the night at a friend’s home. And although I could put my foot down when enough was enough, I also didn’t like to disappoint him or come off being mean. Once he was in his teens, I worried that being firm with him in saying no to certain things would cause him to run away from home. It was years later when I told him of my concerns and his reply was, Oh, mah, I wouldn’t do that, I knew where my bread and butter was. And a few years later, he said he appreciated me being a parent on stealth mode. Not sure what he meant, I asked for an explanation. Oh, you know, he said, you don’t hover like some parents, you know when to zoom in and right back out when not needed anymore. I laughed. And here, I had worried about being too hands on or not enough. But, it seems, I was just right.
And Life Goes On
Today, our son is the wonderful father of a nine-year-old son and almost seven-year-old daughter. Again, I couldn’t be more proud. Both children are as kind as he is and both hard workers with good grades and a ready smile. Even my daughter-in-law is a hard worker and a great mother to these two young miracles.
It is challenging living farther away from them now that we have relocated to the country. But life is good and the best part is having an adult relationship with our son. He is still the apple of my eye and the song in my heart. Despite having his own family, he helped us with our move out of the city and with the build of our guest cottage aka little casita.
When I look back, I can see where I could have been a better mother. And yet, I can also see where being a good mother was doing like my own mother did for me. Reading books together. Watching movies with and for the other (taking turns watching each other’s favorites). Cooking together. Building with Legos. Walking the neighborhood trails. And letting my miracle child teach me to swim. After several summers of swim lessons at the local YMCA, how could I not let this natural lover of water not teach me. His encouragement and faith in my abilities moved me from being afraid to be in water deeper than hip-level to being able to swim the width of a pool in water that reaches over the top of my head.
My momma always told me that adults should let little ones help and do what they believed they could. In following her advice, my miracle child outgrew me in many ways. From his big heart for helping others to his amazing math skills to his determination to play the banjo starting in sixth grade, and much more, our son has wowed me. As I watch him as a father to his own children, I can see where he – perhaps unknowingly, is passing on this same philosophy of letting the little ones do what they believe they can do.
I may not have been able to have more children, but the one I was blessed with has brought me more joy than I could ever imagine having with more. And I could not ask for more.
Please note: In two weeks, my blog will reflect motherhood in regard to those youth we mentor along the way. So, stay tuned….