I never understood the importance of maternity photos.
Until after my first child was born.
The day my husband and I were scheduled to have maternity photos taken, I was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital with preeclampsia and was induced.
I have hardly any proof of him being in my stomach at all, save for random shots of pregnant me taken by friends and family.
I was overjoyed when I found out I was pregnant.
You likely were, too.
Who isn’t, right? Can you fathom the idea of someone who isn’t over the moon, down to her bones excited about everything related to pregnancy and the impending birth and arrival of their baby?
Hey, it happens.
When the doctor told me she would be admitting me to the hospital, my husband’s face beamed with delight. He seemed to skip over the parts about preeclampsia to the part where we might be having our baby that day.
I couldn’t believe how upset his happy face made me. But it did. I wanted to hit him with a wiffle ball bat. Repeatedly.
He was excited.
I was something else.
When we got to the hospital, I passed the time by laying on my side while the monitors tracked everything. Baby’s heartbeat. My blood pressure. Contractions.
I laid there with my eyes closed, mentally willing my blood pressure to subside. I wanted to be anywhere other than there.
The nurse saw the angst written all over my face. She cocked her head to the side and met my eyes with hers. “Are you okay?” she gently asked.
I nodded. But I’m sure it was written all over my face. This same loud, repetitive thought that was clanging about in my head: I’m not ready.
“I’m not ready for this. I’m exhausted. I was supposed to have two more weeks. I was supposed to go home on bed rest and enjoy the rest of my swollen pregnancy eating popsicles with my feet propped up and the television blaring in the background. I don’t have a diaper bag packed. I don’t have a finished nursery. I don’t know how to give birth. I don’t WANT to give birth. I don’t know how to nurse a baby. I don’t know why babies cry. I don’t know what I’m doing. I wasn’t cut out for this.”
Despite the excitement I had, I carried something else along with me during those long, arduous months of pregnancy: fear.
I was but one in a flock of expecting mothers when I had my first child. It was my church’s great baby boom of 2009.
If you couldn’t already tell, I did not always feel warm and fuzzy about my pregnancy. I felt bloated and exhausted. I didn’t spring into action with planning a nursery. I didn’t read up on various birthing methods.
I didn’t devour book after book about child development. I didn’t always want to talk about or know what to say when people would point out my burgeoning belly. I assumed the baby would grow, then the baby would come and it would all be well and good, so can we just do this without all the fuss, please?
The other ladies around me seemed BORN (no pun intended) to be pregnant. They seemed like they had waited all their lives for this blessed event.
Me? I cast those romantic notions out of my head when I dropped 10 pounds during my first trimester because I couldn’t eat anything.
I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.
I was afraid of my life not looking the same again. I was afraid of what having a baby, and giving birth would do to me. I was afraid of so many things. I was most afraid I wasn’t cut out to be a mother.
I let fear stop me. I let it control me. And it took some of my joy away.
My second and third pregnancies were better in this regard. By then I knew I could do it. I knew I could deliver a baby. I knew I could nurse a baby. I knew I could take care of a baby. After all, the doctors let me take the first baby home, right? And they would never have let me do that if they didn’t think I could do it.
But I could do that my first pregnancy, too. Whether I realized or felt it or not.
The person I am now wishes she could go back and give that first-time mom me a pep talk. I’d shake her shoulders as I laid out the truth: nothing magical happens to you when you have your baby. Except everything magical happens to you when you have a baby.
A Mother is not some magical being that drifts down from heaven and embodies us. Yet motherhood is at this crossroads of the most ethereal kind of love that says you were always destined to be here, and this grounded feeling of knowing that there is nothing better out there and nowhere you’d rather be than right here.
what makes you a mom is not some magic trick.
Mothers are the take it one day at a time people. Mothers are the “I won’t know until I try” people. Mothers are the “I have gone for six months sleeping in two-hour increments, I’m not afraid of some little old stomach bug” people. Mothers are “the let’s see what we get” people. Mothers are the doing dishes at 9 p.m. on a Saturday, folding ungodly amounts of laundry and pulling sticky fingers out of her hair because we have to get it all done people.
There is no cookie cutter mold for motherhood.
Yet it’s all pretty sweet.
Motherhood is the one step at a time motto against the backdrop of everything is different for the rest of forever. But it’s the best kind of different.
You’ll get there. Just you wait. Just you wait until it gets really good.