I nearly died on the day I became a mother. During an emergency C-section 4 weeks before my due date, I bled uncontrollably. A second surgeon was called in. I had to be given multiple blood transfusions. The real irony of the situation lay in the fact that while I was growing up, I never really wanted to be a mother. But at that very moment, laying in the operating room, drifting in and out, there was nothing I wanted more than to be a mother.
It had been a long, bumpy road to this point. I had wrestled with the decision to become a parent for nearly a decade. It was not a choice I made lightly. It was as if God wanted me to fully understand this huge choice I had made, testing my commitment by almost losing my daughter with 11 weeks to go in the pregnancy, spending 2 months on bed rest in the hospital, and culminating with this – an emergency Caesarean gone from bad to worse.
People often mention negotiations with God in near death situations. I don’t remember mine specifically, but know that they had already been going on for a long 2 months as I lay in the hospital desperately hoping that everything would be okay with my baby.
The thought of Duane and Cason going home alone still haunts me to this day, and it is that very image which gave me strength and resolve in the O.R. that day. This precious new baby, whom I had waited months to meet and only glimpsed briefly, needed a mother. Ready or not, I was her mother.
I didn’t believe in maternal instincts, especially because I thought there was no way I possessed any. And I was very surprised the day I discovered I just might have some. It was Cason’s first visit to the pediatrician’s office. I was in such bad shape I barely made it there at all, so Duane took her down the hall with the nurse to weigh her. I felt terrible. Here I was her mother and I couldn’t even walk down the hall for her first weigh in. I couldn’t even hold her. As a paranoid first time parent, I worried about what horrible things the nurse must be thinking of me. And then, like a bolt of lightning through the dark sky, I heard HER cry. She was all the way down a long corridor filled with other people, children, and noises, but after just two days I knew MY baby’s cry. My heart raced and longed to hold her. I was her mother.
As Duane and I stumbled through those first challenging weeks as parents, complicated by the near loss of our daughter and myself during pregnancy and childbirth, one thing became quite clear: Despite having thought long and hard, analyzing virtually every aspect of becoming a parent, everything I thought I knew was not enough. The rules would have to be made up as we go.
One night Duane found me next to Cason’s crib sobbing with my hand on her. I was thanking God with the same fervency I had used for months prior while begging God for her to be okay. I just couldn’t believe that she was alive. She was so beautiful, so perfect, and we’d been so close to losing her. I couldn’t believe we had made it. Duane quietly said, “Pick her up.”
I said, “But you shouldn't wake a sleeping baby.”
As though he could sense the aching in my heart and the need I had to confirm that she was indeed real, she was indeed alive, she was indeed mine, he gently yet firmly said, “Pick her up.”
And I did. To hell with the “should’s.” Life is too precious, too fleeting to live by other people’s rules. I was her mother.
A lot changed that night. I learned that I did have maternal instincts and if I would allow myself to listen to them, Cason and I could have that mystical and wondrous bond that comprises the mother/daughter relationship -- a relationship that transcends human understanding and many times exists on an ethereal plane.
That night was nearly 6 years ago, and yet again tonight I found myself gazing upon the most beautiful face in the universe thanking God for her, the absolute miracle that she is and the absolute miracle she has performed in my life. I am her mother.