I recently went out to dinner with a group of friends and the topic of childbirth came up. Women began sharing their stories of childbirth, the good, the bad and the ugly. Some moms expressed their passion natural childbirth, and explain all the ways they prepared for that. Some mothers said “I screamed for that epidural the moment I walked through the door!” Other moms explained why a home birth was best for them. There’s always that one mom that everyone is jealous of, the one that says “I pushed once and there he was!” Moms discussed what their spouses were doing during labor (either holding their hand or passing out), as well as what lead to their C-section, or explain that they pushed for hours, or even will talk about the first thing they ate right after they delivered. I love learning about other women’s birthing experiences, as they are all so unique.
Moms meet these little humans months before everyone else gets to. We know what their heartbeats feel like from the inside. We eat crazy things, sleep a lot, endure nausea, and feel those little kicks. Oh, that first kick. Our bodies grow at a rapid pace, clothing no longer fits, you’re out of breath all the time and you’re just plain uncomfortable. Our bodies go through a change that is both miraculous and disturbing. There’s so many things your friends don’t tell you, because if you knew, you may not want to get pregnant. Our spouses look at us in awe (they better, anyway). We’re emotional and sometimes psychotic. It’s a beautiful time.
Then There is Childbirth
I went to the hospital to have my daughter, Shelby, on Christmas night. I was being induced and I showed up feeling confident. I hadn’t prepared much for delivery, I just decided to trust my doctor and let nature take its course. Well …. I was in for a surprise. My epidural didn’t work. The Pitocin kept making my baby’s heart rate drop. I was not dilating fast enough, and when it was time to push, she did NOT want to come out. I learned from that whole experience, and I know now that if I have another child, I will do things differently. Either way, I will NEVER forget the moment she was born. After 2 hours of pushing, she didn’t cry when she came out, for what felt like an eternity. The respiratory team rushed in, did what they needed to do, and that was when I heard that cry. I was shaking in relief. I got to look at her for only a minute, as they wanted to bring her to NICU for monitoring. That brief moment I had with her caused my whole life to flash before my eyes. All the challenges, heartbreak and loss were all meaningless in that moment. I cried tears of joy looking into the eyes of a little person I created and brought into the world. My responsibility to her began. Despite having never changed a diaper in my life, I was ready. When I was wheeled into the NICU, I heard her cry. It pierced my heart. I rushed over to her, opened my robe, and laid her on my bare chest. She instantly stopped crying. I told her “I’m your mommy.” The nurse told me “Honey, she knows exactly who you are.” That’s when it clicked for me. She needs me just as much as I need her. It shattered my world. I’d never be the same.
Luckily our NICU stay was short, only a couple nights. Once we got her home, the journey really began. My life wasn’t about me anymore. My life was about this little baby girl who couldn’t even talk, yet had me mesmerized. I was tired. My boobs hurt. But I was running on a love I never knew existed. It was the sweetest time of my life.
Shelby is now 4, and everything has changed, yet stayed exactly the same. I’m still mesmerized by her. I’m still tired. And that horrendous labor experience I went through? I’d do it a million times over for her. While magical, motherhood is exhausting. Mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting. I constantly feel like I’m not good enough for her. I cover her in essential oils, pray over her, and beg God to guide me to do the right thing by her. I know that I’d do anything for her to not feel pain, sadness or fear. Some days are good, some days are bad. But each day is a new beginning to a brand new start for us. I’m thankful for that.
Moms are Superheroes
When I chat with other women about their childbirth experiences, it always reminds me. Women are superheroes. We go through actual trauma to get our kids on this earth. That’s right. Childbirth is physical and emotional trauma. Our bodies heal quickly, and we instantly begin feeding our babies from the same body that created them. We run on NO sleep and the clock on the wall stops ticking because time no longer exists. The world that was once ours is no longer. Our very being is devoted to this little tiny person that needs you, and you’re constantly praying you don’t screw up. When they are sick, they cry for Mom. When they are sad, they cry for Mom. When they are happy or when something good happens to them, they can’t wait to tell their Mom. Little girls want to be like Mom and little boys want to marry a woman like Mom. Step aside, Spiderman. Your superhero powers ain’t got nothing on us.
Like superheroes, moms are able to morph into different versions of themselves when faced with different challenges. All it takes is the possibility our child is sad and we morph into child therapists. The mere hint of an illness and we become doctors. When someone mistreats our kids, we become protectors. We spend our life savings on the perfect smocked outfits for every occasion, down to the perfect bow. We think of those details even when we are drowning at work or mad at our spouse. We face miscarriages, death, job loss, stress and so much more, all while nurturing demanding, smaller versions of ourselves. Even when we are in a storm of our own, we put on a brave face. Moms have the ability to make our kids believe everything is going to be ok, even when we aren’t sure that it will be. It’s a natural instinct. These tasks are nothing short of remarkable, and something superhero stories are made of.
Are we perfect? No. However, the love we have for our kids IS perfect. Life is hard, but a mothers love can get us through life’s hardest challenges. There is no love more unconditional than that of a mother. They will drive us crazy, push us to points we never thought we could get, and cause us to worry for their well-being. But amidst all of those hardships, we still wake up and choose love every day. That, mommas, makes us superheroes. Even on our worst days.