“There are some women who have always dreamed of becoming a mother. When they were little, they carried their dolly proudly, feeding her, bathing her, loving her. They have the names picked out, two boys and one girl. They can picture everything so vividly, so absolutely perfectly.
And then there was me.
I was never one of those girls. I didn’t play with dolls much and never really saw myself as being a mother. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was convinced I was a Ninja Turtle. When I met my husband, I knew right away I would marry him. Yet still, I just wasn’t sure if having kids were in the cards for me. My sister would always jokingly tell me to never have kids, because, and I quote, ‘You don’t even like them.’
Now, before you jump to conclusions, let me explain. It honestly wasn’t that I didn’t like kids. It’s just I never felt, you know, motherly enough. I thought it was a feeling, an intuition you were just kind of born with I felt I was seriously lacking. During a 3:00 a.m. kitchen floor therapy session with a girlfriend, I even remember mentioning, ‘Maybe my career is my main focus.’ I felt like I was close to promotion and going on maternity leave would hinder my chances. Plus, I couldn’t picture myself being a mother, caring for another human when I was still so selfishly self-absorbed in myself.
It’s funny how things change, isn’t it? How you can be one person one minute and someone completely different the next. Looking back now at that exact moment, I don’t even remember who that girl was. I can’t get back into her headspace, her motives are no longer clear. See, being a mother, being Ella’s mother, is exactly what I needed to be. I solely believe I was put on this earth to be her mom. She changed me.
Christmas Eve 2018, I was spotting. I had a little cramping, so I figured my period was on its way, finally, after being a few days late. I put on a pad and went to bed. In the morning my pad was completely dry, not a single spot. I thought, ‘That’s really odd.’ I mentioned it to my husband but initially brushed it off.
On Boxing Day, I got up super early to get my workout in. I wanted to head to the store after, before the crowds formed to pick up a few things. I still hadn’t gotten my period, yet unintentionally, I passed the family planning section. Before thinking twice, I grabbed a pregnancy test and headed for the self-checkout line. When I arrived home, it was still fairly early. My husband was still sleeping, and I was in no rush to take the test. I mean, what were really the chances? But there they were, two pink lines indicating I was in fact, pregnant.
I laughed. Full-on belly laughed for what felt like too long. I was going to be a mother. Todd was going to be a father. We were going to be parents. We were going to be responsible for another life. Aside from being a lot to process, I think a switch went on that day. It was like my entire outlook changed. I instantly went into mom mode. I was giddy and just so excited. We went out for breakfast that morning and I remember telling the waitress, ‘My eggs need to be well done.’ (I had just googled this.) Todd never caught on.
I fiercely searched Pinterest for ideas on how to tell him he was going to be a dad but instead, I blurted it out while we were sitting at the kitchen table eating Chinese take-out on New Year’s Eve. To say he was excited would be the biggest understatement. His eyes danced with absolute pure joy. Finding out you’re pregnant is life-changing but watching your soulmate discover he’s going to be a dad, well, there just isn’t a word adequate enough to describe that.
Once he knew, we were in full-on parent mode. The first trimester was rough. I was nauseous all the time, but I could never throw up. Sometimes I would force my fingers to the back of my throat just so I could get some relief. With nausea came absolute annoyance for my husband. I couldn’t help it, everything he did bothered me (poor guy). There was nothing he could do right, even though he tried endlessly.
Growing a human coupled with my hormones, my dang emotions were all over the place. Most days I was exhausted, but I was determined to still do everything my pre-pregnancy self did. Including my daily workouts. I think that was the only thing that made me feel like myself. I needed desperately to feel like me. It’s not I didn’t like being pregnant, I just didn’t love it. Watching my body grow and change was difficult for someone who struggled with body issues for so long.
I always saw myself as being a boy mom. I was scared to be anything but. I thought there was no way I could raise a girl in the world we’re living in right now. There is just too much I would need to teach her. Plus, I was downright awful growing up and I was hoping karma wouldn’t find me just yet. Well, there it was in the pink confetti that littered the sky proving, in fact, I would be raising a girl, making me a girl’s mom. Giving me exactly what I didn’t know I even needed.
The rest of my pregnancy progressed fairly quickly. I can’t complain. I slept like a baby, I had no weird cravings or aversions. I was still able to work out every day, there was no heartburn or pain. She came 3 days before her due date, all on her own. My labor was textbook, and the entire experience leaves me with nothing but sincere gratitude and admiration. Our bodies are amazing and what they can do leaves me absolutely speechless.
But here I was, a brand-new mom, with a brand-new life sitting on my chest thinking, ‘Now what? How can they possibly hand me a baby and expect me to know what to do?’ Ella took my breath away and at the same time, crippled me with anxiety.
See, I’m a reader. I love reading. I always have. I like being informed, prepared. I do the research, I respect the facts. However, no book, no scholarly article, no amount of research or facts could have prepared me for that moment or even now, for this moment, 16 months into motherhood. I read and researched after I found out I was pregnant. I followed all of the knowledgeable accounts on Instagram. I asked my doctor all the questions, but it wasn’t until she was physically in my arms those books, those articles, the people, the doctors, they all left out so much. So much about being pregnant, about giving birth, the recovery, the extraordinary highs, and the lowest lows.
We get so caught up with preparing ourselves on how to care for the new baby we often neglect how to care for the new mother. No one prepared me for that. The first week was hard. I cried because it hurt to pee, I cried because it hurt to sit or stand or walk. I cried because I hated breastfeeding and felt so guilty. I cried because sometimes it felt like I was still in labor and then I cried because Ella was no longer in my belly. I could no longer protect her from the outside world, and I cried over that too.
It was like I was living underwater and I couldn’t come up for air. Sitting there in adult diapers, with sore cracked nipples, dirty hair, and the same t-shirt and track pants, I thought, ‘I will never be able to do this. I will never be good enough for this, for her.’ Despite what I was feeling, despite my lack of confidence in my abilities to be her mother, she trusted me. She trusted me to feed her, to keep her safe, to love her. She never judged me for messy hair or the clothes I wore. She never judged me for all the times I cried right alongside her. She needed me and I came through for her again and again.
They say having a child is like watching your heart walk around outside of your body, and I truly think that is the best way to describe the love of a mother. The love is so deep it physically hurts. In such a short time, Ella has taught me patience, oh so much patience. That the bad days do not mean a bad life. Even on the hard days, the messy days, the ‘I wish I could get a redo’ days, she still trusts me to be her mama. She has taught me the importance of moments, experiences, and slowing down over all the tangible things. I know more about life and love now than I ever did before. I know what it means to love unconditionally and to be so consumed with it. It’s so overwhelmingly beautiful.
I don’t think I ever read anywhere how extraordinarily ordinary motherhood is. The books didn’t tell me how I could go from bursting with gratitude for this tiny human to bursting with tears because I just need a second to catch my breath. No one told me I would be so incredibly thankful yet unsure, ecstatic yet sad. I wasn’t prepared to not enjoy every moment of being a mother but wow, do I ever love being a mother. I do so many things I said I’d never do and don’t do a lot of the things I said I would do and just when I think I have it all figured out, then I question absolutely everything again.
It’s okay not to love every single second of being a mom. I never imagined how lonely the beginning of motherhood would feel. Some days I know exactly what I’m doing and other days I’m barely hanging on. Regardless, every day I get up and I do it again. Sometimes I feel like I’m not enough, I’m not checking all the boxes. Yet every day she reminds me I am.
And that’s the magic of motherhood. All of our journeys are different but the same. There isn’t one size fits all and there’s no trophy at the finish line. What works for me may not work for you. I’ll never judge you for it, we’re all just trying to survive, one day at a time, to do what’s best for our babies.
Mama, you were put on his earth to be exactly who your babies need. The seasons of motherhood are constantly changing. Each one brings on its own set of challenges and changes. It’s all so incredibly exhausting but even more incredibly special. You may think you lost yourself but maybe, just maybe, you found yourself.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amanda Hosmer from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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