I come to you today with joy in my heart as some of my long-term readers have agreed to share with you, dear reader, their own unique perspective and journey as they have grown and changed and developed into being a mother. Our first story in this series comes from Tanya. This is her story and journey for your inspiration:
Growing up, I had always said I didn’t want to have kids. It wasn’t that I thought children were loud or messy or inconvenient, I just had no idea how to deal with kids. They confused me and left me feeling nervous. What do I do, what do I say? So I thought that meant I wouldn’t be a good mother. After all, aren’t you supposed to have that innate mothering nature? So my plans were to go to college and pursue a professional career, one that didn’t seem “suited” to having children anyways.
Then I met my future husband and everything changed. We started planning out our future despite only having been together as a couple for a few short months. And this future included children. Lots of children! It seemed my biological clock kicked in and now my plans would change. But those children still were in the distant future, not something that would happen soon. Or so we thought. And then almost 10 years ago, we found ourselves staring at a positive pregnancy test wondering what we were going to do. I had just graduated college and was only making mediocre pay with no benefits and my husband was still finishing up his last year of college. We had no money, no health insurance and no clue as to what it meant to care for a child. Being young, we were the first of our friends to start a family so it was up to us to make our way. And so we did.
My husband picked up enough hours at his work to qualify for health insurance while still finishing up a full load in college. I continued to work at my job until the pregnancy became too difficult for me. We found an obstetrician that accepted our insurance and we were shuffled along through the standard medical care throughout my pregnancy. Very little advice was offered and the birthing class seemed ridiculous to both of us so we ended up bailing on it the last few weeks. No one told me what it would be like to give birth to a child let alone how to care for this infant after we were home. I spent my spare time watching “A Baby Story” on TLC and reading the “What to Expect” books, thinking this would help ease some of my anxiety and fears. Finally, the day came and what could be described as no less than a really bad birthing experience, my son was brought into this world. And I love him from the brief minute I saw him before they took him away. A love that ran so deep and so strong, it is hard to put into words unless you are a parent yourself. And once again, I found everything changed. Everything I saw on those shows, all the “advice” my pediatrician gave, everything I had read in those books didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel right to only nurse my baby every 4 hours. It didn’t feel right to have him sleep in a separate room with the door closed. It didn’t feel right to not attend to his cries, meet his needs when he needed me. I still had my doubts about my ability to care for this precious soul, but I slowly started to trust my instincts as well.
Looking back, I can now see why he was my first child. He was the easiest, laid back baby any mother could ask for. Happy to just be in your presence and happy to be alive. My husband and I still laugh about an incident at the grocery store when he was about 4 months old. We were shopping and a mother with four children passed us and said “Don’t worry, it gets easier” and she continued on. We both looked at each other wondering what on earth she meant because he already was so easy! Little did we know.
Having this easy child gave me the confidence in my ability to mother children that wasn’t there before. So we decided to add to our family. The pregnancy with my second seemed pretty much the same as my first and we found out we were having another boy. We were excited and speaking for myself, pretty oblivious to the fact that he just may have a different personality than my first. I was expecting him to be just as easy going as my first born. Aren’t all babies like that?!
So imagine my surprise when we bring home from the hospital a very colicky, high needs baby who never stopped crying. This baby challenged every thought, every idea I had as to what it meant to rear a baby. For the first time since I became a mother, I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. For the first time, I felt like I was failing. And it felt horrible. I remember crying along with my son in the wee hours of the morning wondering what it was that I was doing wrong. After a week, I sought out the advice of my pediatrician. It turns out my son had reflux and so he was prescribed an antacid and we were sent on our way. But that didn’t ease the intensity in which he experienced the world or the intensity in which he expressed himself. He always seemed unhappy and was very particular as to how he wanted things. But this was all new to me and it always seemed like a guessing game. I felt like we weren’t able to bond as well as I did with my first son and that was hindering my ability to be intuitive to his needs. And I didn’t like this feeling. So I started to seek out other ways of parenting this baby.
I didn’t have any friends or family who had had a colicky, high needs child so I turned to the internet. After researching, I came across the Mothering Magazine website. Everything I was reading resonated with me. It just felt as the right way to parent a child and in many ways, I was already that type of mother. This became my source of answers for the times I was faced with a situation in which I just didn’t know what to do. It allowed my confidence to grow once again and I started to feel a trust in myself that had been missing since the birth of my second son.
When I found myself pregnant, once again with another boy, I knew that there was no telling how this person growing inside me would be like. As odd as this may sound, that uncertainty also left me with a sense of assurance. I knew that no matter what kind of personality this little boy had, I would be just the kind of mother he needed. With my third son, I was able to have the birth I wanted (home water birth) and we bonded instantly. He was a good mixture of his older brothers, happy and mellow at times, intense at others. I was finally feeling like I knew what it meant to be a mother since I began this journey.
So when my daughter was born and we had trouble with nursing and she was very colicky, I didn’t panic. I knew it would be alright. I took those moments in stride (well, as much as you can!). I paced around the house with her in my arms as she cried, knowing this was not a reflection of me as a mother. I sought out help and was able to relieve her pain through homeopathic and chiropractic care. I was able to breath and think and trust.
I knew that if I just trusted myself, the answer would come. And it always did. I was growing along side my children! That isn’t to say there aren’t moments that come up where I am at a loss or that I always have the answers. I will always find myself experiencing something new. I just know how to get the answers now and there is something very freeing about that.
So as I look back on these last 10 years, my journey as a mother from the beginning, I can see how much my children have helped me to grow as a person. These little people who were brought into my life each with their own purpose, their own lesson. I feel privileged and blessed at the peace being a mother has brought, at the life I now have. This life that I never, ever could have imagined of having and calling my own. What an honor to be called a mother!
Thank you, Tanya, for sharing your story. Look for more stories throughout this week in this series of “Growing Into Motherhood”.