When does motherhood begin?
I realize this is very different for everyone.
Does it begin when you get that positive test? Or the call from your surrogate mother that the procedure was a success? Or the adoption agency informing you that a birth mother has chosen you?
Or is it when you feel the kicks? See your child on the ultrasound machine? Or when you finally hold that precious baby in your arms for the first time?
For me, it was none of those things. I’ve been pretty open about my maternal struggles. How I feel like I was in line for extra boobs when the maternal instinct was passed out. How I didn’t bond with my child for a very long time. How I never wanted to do this.
For me, it happened in the back of an ambulance, beside the gurney that my 8 month old child was strapped to.
I never thought I’d be “that” mom. The one in the back of that ambulance.
Nana had RSV – she was diagnosed right before her first Thanksgiving. The Dr told us she should be fine, but to watch her breathing. The next day she was SO sick. I was so scared. Her breathing became labored and we rushed her to the ER. They took us directly back and immediately starting doing all sorts of things to her. They took her blood and started an IV, got her on oxygen, because her levels were so low. They did a breathing treatment, but it just didn’t help. They decided that she needed to stay, at least over night. Problem was, they didn’t have a pediatric floor. I’ve always kicked myself for this – shouldn’t I have KNOWN that about the hospital? Shouldn’t I have taken her to the right hospital? That has always stayed with me – that I just wasn’t good enough for this. As she had an IV in, and needed to be on oxygen, they had to call an ambulance to transport. Just the word ambulance scared the shit out of me. I didn’t want my baby in there.
We waited around for a while, then they came. I did the “motherly” thing and told McHusband I’d ride with her, and he could follow us. I’ll be painfully honest in that I didn’t want to. I wanted to take the car and drive far away. I didn’t want to DEAL with this at all. It’s hard to admit that now – very hard. Part of me resented her, for getting sick the day before Thanksgiving – the first one we would host at home. I have tears in my eyes right now, hating myself for ever feeling that way.
So, into the ambulance we went. My tiny baby strapped on the gurney, little IV coming out of her arm, so tired because it was 3 in the morning. And we rode.
I stared out the back window, shaking, tired and scared out of my mind. I watched the lights go by, wishing I was in any other vehicle. The EMT tried to talk to me, I wasn’t interested. I was on a roller coaster of emotion and not all of it was nice. I glanced back at the small sleeping form that was my daughter and I became her mother. In that moment, I realized what she meant to me, and what being her mother meant to me. I realized that I couldn’t live without her, and that she was a huge part of me. I realized that I WANTED this, and needed her, more than I’ve ever needed anything in my life. I grabbed her tiny hand, and in sleep it curled around my finger. And I was her mother.
We spent Thanksgiving in the hospital, and ate hamburgers and french fries. My parents came to relieve us for a while, and we showered and changed clothes, headed right back to the hospital. I remember that I hated to put her down in that crib, surrounded by the cold bars. Hated seeing her subjected to the breathing treatments and prodding by the staff. Hated the very smell of the hospital and all it represented. My mother bear came out and I wished I never had to put her down. The day we were released, while we were waiting for the Dr to come and talk to us once more, I was laying on the chair, with her in my lap and we were watching TV, she was drifting off. I remember that was my first real moment of peace, as her mother. It was the first time I felt comfortable in my role and the first time I was excited about what my life would now mean, with her in it.
These admissions were very difficult for me. It’s hard not to be the very image of a perfect mother. It’s hard to admit that it wasn’t love at first sight and that it was a real struggle. But, you can bet your ass I’m every inch her mother.