A few days before my first child was born I was frantically planting flowers in the garden. This is California, and I was still trying to get the winter flowers into the ground before my first child was born. My nesting instincts had clicked in full gear and had extended to the yard as well as the house. I very clearly remember planting flowers along the base of the palm tree thinking I need to do this now while my hands are not busy holding a baby. I looked at my hands, and I knew that in a few short days they would be holding my first born. I continued turning over the earth and inserting the starter flowers, all the while marveling at the child nestled in my womb.
There are many cliches about motherhood – yes, it is the most challenging and the most important job out there. I have been a stay-at-home mom, a work-out-of-the-house mom, a single mom, a step-mom, but what it all comes down to is just plain and simple, I am a mom. No qualifiers are needed. It is all challenging; it is all rewarding.
I always knew I wanted children – and for me a large family was what I had envisioned long ago. Giving birth the first time though was something short of crazy. All started out well, and in the end it all finished well, but other that that – nothing went as planned. Eight hours into labor, and after the doctor broke my water, my body was ready to deliver. Racked with intense contractions I pushed, and pushed. Eventually my baby’s head crowned, and my baby began making it’s way into the world. After the head emerged everything seemed to stop.
Contractions continued, but baby was unable to make it all the way out – my baby was stuck. The doctor sitting at the end of my bed began yelling for help in a very stern and measured voice. I saw one nurse shove my husband out of the room as many more nurses scurried in. Laying back on the bed, I was surrounded by five nurses and the doctor barking orders.
All five nurses were pushing on my stomach trying to push my baby out. The doctor reached in and snapped my child’s clavicle, and with the help of the nurses she was able to maneuver my child out of the birthing canal. For me it was all very surreal, watching, listening, having no control over my body. My only thought was, this is not like the movies we watched in Lamaze class.
I surrendered my body over to the people surrounding me and to the will of God. I think I was too exhausted to be scared. I just surrendered. I briefly saw my son before they whisked him out of the room – I had a son! He was a beautiful baby boy! All 9 pounds and 22 inches of him!
Round two began a few hours later. After I had eaten a spoonful of cottage cheese and two slices of canned peaches, it was discovered that I was hemorrhaging. Hours later, after attempts to stop the bleeding, I was going into shock and they wheeled me into the operating room. Due to an unknown condition called placenta accrete, my placenta had grown deep into my uterine wall, and I needed a D&C. With only a shot of demerol and a bit placed in my mouth, the doctor began.
This was an emergency situation, and I had eaten those few bites of cottage cheese and canned peaches – so more anesthetics were out of the question. I do not know how long this procedure lasted – I screamed the entire time. At one point the anesthesiologist keeping an eye on my vitals told the doctor that I had heard her say, “One more minute” enough times. Eventually they were done and wheeled me to the recovery room.
Eight hours after I gave birth to my son, I was finally able to hold him. Lying on my bed in the recovery room I held him close and nursed him. I was a mother.
That first night in the hospital room the nurses checked on me around the clock. When the 1:00 am nurse came in to check my vitals and asked how I was doing. I looked at her and said, “Next time, it’s not going to be like this.”
Her jaw dropped as she replied, “I can’t believe that you are even thinking of a next time!”
“Of course,” I said, “I want more children.” And with that I went back to sleep.
Little did I know at that time that I would become the mother to three children plus three step-children. I love each child, and I am honored to be mom/step-mom to each one. Motherhood is a roller-coaster ride – full of its own highs and lows. Full of laughter and full of tears, full of worry and full of hope, it is energizing and exhausting, most of all – it is unconditional love.