I had a birth plan. I had an iPod playlist, a hospital bag and a birth plan. Three days after his due date, he stopped moving inside me. They discovered my amniotic fluid level was low. Then they discovered he was presenting face first. I had a birth plan. I got a c-section. Involving a crazy amount of blood-loss and an extended, very painful recovery period.
And…a perfect little boy. We named him after his great grandfather. It was love at first sight.
But I couldn’t help feeling like I had failed a little bit. Like I had cheated or something. Yes, it was an emergency cesarean, but…I HAD A BIRTH PLAN! I mean, I read What to Expect When Your Expecting. I knew that there were too many variables and that things would, more likely than not, go a different way. And eventually, I let it go. I had a baby boy. I was a mother.
When I got pregnant for the second time, I was dead set on having a vaginal birth. I was living in Massachusetts and happened to have an Ob/GYN who was more than willing to support me in my decision to go VBAC. Enough time had passed. The c-section incision had been made “the right way.” It was settled. I had a new birth plan.
As the time crept closer, I became more and more freaked out. What if my vaginal canal couldn’t accommodate a baby? What if my scar wasn’t strong enough? What if I broke my body in an effort to prove to myself that I could have a baby the “normal” way – the way “real” mothers were supposed to?
I had a tremendously long labor. I got an epidural that only half-worked. But then my water broke and my cervix dilated from 2 centimeters to 10 and then I pushed and out came my second perfect son.
It was totally magical.
And followed up by a year of walking with a cane. See, with my new baby came an extremely rare condition called Third Trimester Osteoporosis of the hip.
Both my sons marked me on their journeys into this world.
And I think, in retrospect, I might have held that against them. A little bit. They are both my greatest accomplishment. But I still have those fleeting moments even now that they are 4 and 6 years old, when I look at them and think, “I can’t believe I’m your mom!”
I grew these people inside of me. And now I have the immense privilege of watching them grow outside of me. And I’m their mom, not because of how they came out, but because of how things have been since they came out. Recognizing myself as a mother isn’t something that simply happened in a particular moment. It happens all the time, every day, in the way they look at me, in their smiles, in their goodbye hugs and kisses when I drop them off at school each morning.
I’m not a mother. I’m their mother. And at least for now, unless my 6 year old is trying to make some kind of point (“Maaaaoom!”), I get to be mommy.