This guest post was a winning entry in our “For the Love of Mom” contest. Because not every woman dreams of becoming a mother someday….and sometimes the path that leads us there is twisting, unpredictable, surprising and complicated.
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Lots of girls grow up surrounded by baby dolls, dreaming of being a Mommy one day. They come up with names for their kids long before they are pregnant. They dream up elaborate nursery décor themes. They cannot wait to be round, pregnant and glowing and to show off their “bump”. They have visions of cute little babies in matching mother-daughter outfits. I was not one of these girls. I was not one of these women.
Until a few years ago I would profess, loudly and to anyone who cared to know that I thought having children was “selfish” and not something I was really ever interested in participating in. In my mind people had children to fill some empty space they had, perhaps out of boredom, or to save their marriages. I simply did not have that biologic urge to procreate, and I didn’t think I ever would. And then, something changed.
I cannot pinpoint a day, or an event that changed me, perhaps my “biological clock” just simply started ticking louder. All I know is that seemingly out of nowhere I wanted to be a mother. I wasn’t bored, my marriage was stronger than ever, and I had a dog I loved more than I thought was possible. I wasn’t lonely or even surrounded by lots of girlfriends having babies. I simply wanted to become a mother and I wanted it more than I had wanted anything else I could remember ever wanting, my heart and mind were in agreement.
The rest of my body, as it turned out, was not. Getting pregnant took a long time, and it wasn’t easy. Dozens of tests, thousands of dollars and quite a few doctors could not figure out why I wasn’t getting pregnant. When I finally did get pregnant I was consumed with anxiety about losing the baby. I was plagued by nausea so severe I lost ten pounds that I didn’t have to lose, in the first trimester. I felt miserable 24 hours a day for 3 months. I had wanted to be pregnant so badly that I didn’t feel like I could complain, but it was awful. Things turned around and I had a couple of months where I felt good, back to myself, and was excited about pregnancy again. I was hiking 3 miles a day and riding my mountain bike, doing everything I could to stay healthy for me and my growing baby.
Then at 7 months pregnant I was put on bedrest for pre-term labor. It was torture. Bedrest might sounds like a relaxing way to pass the time, but anyone who has done it will understand. It was hard. When my due date came and went my baby had still not arrived. I had struggled to get pregnant, struggled with being pregnant and now was struggling with how to finish up being pregnant. I ended up being induced. Then, after 18 hours of labor, I ended up having an emergency c-section. And as if that wasn’t enough, the epidural that was supposed to make things numb, make me comfortable, only covered my left side. I could feel the cutting, sharply and intensely as they took my baby boy out, and it was just as awful as you might imagine.
And then, I heard him cry, with loud wails he made a grand entrance into the world. Those sounds I will never forget. I couldn’t see him yet, but I knew he had arrived and my world was changed. I forgot my own pain. I forgot the hours of labor, the weeks of bedrest, and the months of nausea. I forgot the months of wanting and everything that had led up to that moment. In that moment I was this child’s mother.
The road to my becoming a mother was long, rocky and honestly, it was hard. But now, on the other side, none of that matters. What matters now is my precious little boy who looks up at me with his father’s blue eyes and smiles his big toothless grin, filling my heart with a love I didn’t know I was capable of. I may not have known all my life that I wanted to be a mother, but these days I cannot imagine my life any other way.
Throughout my pregnancy and delivery I was challenged physically and emotionally. I was often unable to hike, bike and be as active as I would have liked. For someone who spent every weekend previously on the trail and even chose the where to build my house based on proximity to trailheads, this was a huge adjustment. On top of that, I gave birth in mid-January in Alaska, making getting out with baby a real challenge. I’m proud to say that at ten days old my precious baby boy and I (along with Dad) took a long slow hike in the snow. It took a couple of weeks before I was able to head out carrying him on my own, but by six weeks old we were hiking 3-5 miles a day.
Getting outside, and getting back to my usual activities made all the difference in the world in my mental health. It helped me lose the baby weight. It helped me regain my sense of self. It gave me the confidence that this new precious baby boy who was consuming my life in so many ways wouldn’t keep me from doing the things that I love most. My little boy has logged more than 250 miles in his carrier already at just over three months old. When he is being fussy and all else has failed, getting outside for a quick walk or putting him in the bike trailer and going for a ride are our go to methods of calming him down. Thankfully he seems to have inherited our love for the outdoors.
Sarah is a mother to a chubby, happy 3.5 month old boy, wife to a serious cyclist and a general and trauma surgeon in Anchorage, Alaska. She spends her days both at home and at work consumed with bodily fluids and caring for others. In her free time she loves to hike, bike, ski and play with her crazy dog.
This post was written exclusively for Tales of a Mountain Mama in response to the For the Love of Mom writing contest.
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