I'm 34 weeks pregnant. Maybe that's the reason I'm so reflective lately. Bringing another human into this world is heavy. I can feel her little feet, her fists, her whole tiny body twist and poke and roll inside of me. It isn't something easily explained, the closeness, the connection. But it's there.
This little one is my fourth baby. My fourth daughter. The rush of emotions and memories has been nonstop the last month. The things I've missed. The time lost. The tenderness and love. What I hope to do better.
My first daughter was born when I was 19 years old. My husband and I had only been married for two months before she was conceived, on birth control. I thought I had the flu, until it lasted longer than two weeks.
Even though she was a surprise, she was an answer to my prayers. Marriage was hard at first and I didn't know where I fit in. I was just sort of there. Until I saw those two pink lines and I knew God was telling me exactly what I was there for.
After she was born I was changed. I'm sure only I noticed, but it was undeniable. I was no longer a child. I was a woman. A mother had been born.
I was a young mother, and I made plenty of mistakes. But with Olivia, it was all about the magic. I read whole chapter books to her while I nursed. I carried her everywhere, wrapped in my favorite quilt. With her cradled in my arms, I could forget the knots in my back as we trailed her daddy around the farm during lambing season.
We were a pair. I shared with her my love for rocks. Fostered a wonder in bleached bones and wildflowers. Taught her how to make wishes on dandelions and feel the colors of sunset. We explored peacefully, quietly, in our introverted way.
By the time she was three some family members began to question her mental health. Rumors were spread and conversations had without anyone voicing their concerns to me. I felt betrayed and defensive. Again I was changed. A new kind of mother had been born.
The wonderful world we had been exploring together now had shadows and hurtful, secretive whispers swirling in the air. It didn't feel as safe as before, and my job was to protect. We did tests with doctors and professionals. All proved what I already knew. No issues. Just different... like me.
By the time my second daughter was on the way I was aware and sure of my abilities as a mother. I had been burned by other's well intentioned advice which led me down a path of discovery. I discovered I was worthy. I discovered I was the most important person in my daughter's life. I discovered that God sent her to ME because He trusted ME to be in her corner.
I discovered that every mother feels she is an expert, but they forget how they came to feel that way. They forget the many "births" they endured to know what they know. The thing about birth though, is it isn't transferable. It's wholly personal. Each mother, and child, must endure her own.
So I politely ignored the pressure filled advice and counsel of those who had gone before. Their success and failures were not mine and I refused to hold their weight. I endured the fear filled questions and discomfort of people when they learned I was planning a natural birth with a midwife. I chose to trust myself. I chose to trust God. I knew God trusted me. I knew my choices, however unique, were the right ones for my family, and I was prepared to prove it.
Joslynn's pregnancy was hard but her birth was beautiful. I wanted to feel it all. I wanted to be fully present. To experience it completely. It was calm and peaceful and perfect. Her birth changed me. A new kind of mother was born. A mother that was empowered. A mother that knew she could do hard things. A mother that understood the beautiful connection between pain and pure pleasure. A mother that understood the process. A mother that felt completely in control.
And perfection was how I raised my 2nd child. We followed all the rules. I was in control. People asked my permission. Nap times were consistent. I realized the mistakes I had made as that young inexperienced mother and I was ready to do better. To be better.
Baby #3 was also a girl. Even though some around us were disappointed, we refused to be, and we anxiously waited her arrival. At 31 weeks I began to have consistent pre-term contractions, If not stopped they would turn into pre-term labor and we would-hopefully-have a premature baby in the NICU. After many scary nights and several hospital trips, our awesome midwives and doctors were able to stop the contractions.
At 35 weeks baby girl stopped growing. Our midwives worked with obstetricians and specialists to run tests and decide what was best to do. With no issues found, but monitored closely, we waited until 39 weeks and were then induced. Several days before Adeline's birth, our oldest broke her collar bone. The hospital visits and doctor appointments seemed endless. Somehow we survived the chaos and brought home a healthy baby girl.
I had changed again. Through all of that, a new kind of mother was born. I realized I wasn't in control at all. The relief of finally holding my healthy 3rd daughter in my arms, safe and sound, spurred a deep desire to enjoy every tiny moment. We were all completely smitten with little Adeline. Her long dark hair, olive skin and bright eyes. We held her too much, loved on her constantly, ignored dishes and tidying. We ALL soaked up every moment of tiny toes and squishy little cheeks.
Joy. Joy was how I changed. Instead of trying to control everything to make sure it was perfect, I realized it already was. And I learned to sit back and breathe all that joy in.
When I first became a mother I thought that my own identity would be easily set aside for this higher purpose. That I would happily lose myself. And for a long time I did. But suppressing parts of a soul never lasts. And when it attempts to resurface for air it's violent and demanding.
The child I lost when I became a mother was me. And her emergence was inevitable. I lost the magic when I gained the perfection. I lost perfection when I gained joy. And I lost all joy when I realized being a mother wasn't enough.
I fought it deeply. I felt endlessly guilty for loosing the magic, the perfection, the joy. For the "I don't know's." The "maybe later's." The "not today's." The exhaustion. The impatience. The frustration. Being a mother should be enough. I should be content.
But I wasn't.
It was time to give birth to myself. To my passions, my talents, my own magic and joy. It took time. Like any birth it was a process, filled with pain. But in that process I was changed. A new kind of mother was born.
This mother found her magic, her joy. And now she can again share it with her daughters.
I can't take away the weight of my own failures, I can't change the past or get back the time lost. But I am not the same mother I once was. I've endured many births and though each different, each was necessary.
I am now a mother that nurtures herself alongside her children. And I hope that when my daughters see me paint instead of fold laundry, or leave them to spend time with friends, or say no to a play-date to practice self-care, they will learn. I hope that they will learn that being a good mother isn't losing yourself, it's finding yourself. Finding your own magic. Finding your own joy. Only then will the magic and perfection and joy of motherhood stay.
We are anxious to meet our new daughter, our new little sister. And all together we will soak in the magic and perfection and joy of this new little soul God has trusted us with.
Her birth will be unique. Somehow it will change me. A new kind of mother will be born.
I can't wait to meet her either.
Hi! I'm Amy
I am a Christian wife and mother, a writer, and a recovering perfectionist who is tired of chasing happiness in all the wrong ways. I am now on a journey to find a deeper state of being. Join me on My Peace Project and we'll learn how to survive the chaos together!