On Becoming a Mother

Many people have asked me what it was like to become a mother April 8. I find it really difficult to come up with a concise answer because I don’t believe that’s when I became a mom. Yes, that’s when my daughter was born. But I think becoming a mom was a much, much longer process than the events of labor & delivery.

Recently my husband refilled his medication. He takes it because he has a congenital heart defect and has had 2 open heart surgeries. He’s just 31 years old. The last time he refilled his medication, I said to him “wow, next time we get this filled, we will have a baby!”

We have been through so much together. I thought open heart surgery would be the toughest thing that we’d weather, and in many ways it was. But now I’m a mom. And now he’s a dad. And our relationship is forever changed by this tiny 6 pound miniature version of us that is so entwined into both of our hearts that we’ve both found ourselves randomly crying just looking at how beautiful she is. It’s strange because he and I are the same people, with the same quirks and conversations and beliefs and dreams, but everything in our world is 100% different.

Not only did we just have a baby. We moved cross country. I graduated medical school and became a physician. I’m starting my first job in July.

So, really, I think I started becoming a mom when my husband and I first discussed expanding our family. When we started trying & when I got my + pregnancy test- the hope, the fear, the insecurities, the relief- all of it made me a little more of a mother. Then we started seeing the heartbeat on the ultrasound monitor and saw our little baby moving, practicing breathing, and sucking its toes. We had a special heart scan done to make sure the baby didn’t have my husband’s heart condition. We started receiving gifts-toys, clothes- to prepare for the arrival of our little bumblebee. I would argue all of these events were part of me becoming a mother.

Then April 7 came. My water broke. It was a trickle and I was unsure what to do, so I consulted with an OBGYN friend who advised I go to the hospital. “Just in case,” she said. I was convinced they’d send me home- after all, in the medical world, first time moms are often made fun of for thinking they’re in labor when they aren’t. Around 4pm, they swabbed me, confirmed my water had broken, started an IV, and told me, “you’re having a baby before you leave here!” I called my mom and started crying. I wasn’t ready to take the final step in becoming a mom. I had 3 more weeks until my induction date. I had plans to nest and make more crafts for the nursery. I needed to pack for our big move. And I had to plan our class party for graduation.

Unbeknownst to us at the time, going into labor 3 weeks early was just the first in a series of unplanned events! My OB had gone on vacation, so he wouldn’t be there to deliver the baby. The doctor on call would. He assured us it would be 24-48 hours before the baby came. My mom scheduled the first flight out for the following morning. I took a walk around the unit to try to get my labor to progress, and ended up dilating from 1 to 10 in just a few short hours. None of the medical staff- doctors or nurses- could believe it was my first baby because my labor was so fast! Because of that, I wasn’t able to get the epidural I asked for… I felt everything when I tore. And because of some difficulty hanging a bag of medication, the local anesthetic they injected for my repair had worn off… So I felt everything there too. Our baby was born at 2:35am. They laid my 5lbs 4oz baby on my chest and said congratulations. Since it wasn’t my OBGYN delivering me, they didn’t realize that we didn’t know the gender beforehand. I frantically looked around the room and asked, “what is it? what is it?!” “It’s a girl!” the Attending announced. I can’t describe the joy that washed over me at that moment. We hadn’t found out the gender and I truly didn’t have a preference. But since everyone except for 2-3 of my close friends and family thought it was a boy, I started thinking it was a boy too. I was shocked when they announced she was a girl! We named her Adelaide Ariana. She was, and is, perfect.

Fast forward to now. Adelaide is 8 weeks old.

We have had more joy, laughter, tears, frustration, tests of our patience, and delirium than either of us ever anticipated. From massive blowouts to literally crying over spilt breastmilk (pumped), I believe I am still becoming more of a mom each day. Driving cross country with a newborn was rough. Dealing with the frustrations of moving on top of having a new baby was even tougher. The sleepless nights during her first growth spurt, the nighttime meltdowns, moving then hopping back in the car for a long trip to Missouri for graduation, writing a speech and fulfilling my class president duties while making sure she was fed and happy, walking across the stage at graduation and praying she didn’t have a meltdown so my husband didn’t miss my big moment… the list goes on. Life is so different now- more difficult in ways we never imagined to be sure. But it’s also more beautiful than ever before. She rewards us every morning with a smile that melts our hearts. Motherhood isn’t glamorous but there’s nothing more beautiful. I feel so blessed to call her mine and to have added the title “mom” to my identity.