Friday, March 12, 2010

Becoming Mom

I am looking back tonight-eleven years and 4 days to be exact when my daughter came into this world and my life did a 180-every now and then it still amazes me. Mind you, I am not talking about the whole birthing experience (this I would like to forget); I am referring to the fact that I trusted myself enough to become a mother. You see, I attended high school in the 80’s, and the message that we too should strive for a career was just starting to take hold. I can still remember arguing with my best friend on the bus because all she ever wanted to be was a wife and mother, and I needed to find out how far my talents could take me-I just couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t want the same things I did.

So, off to college I trekked, as far away as my bank account could carry me, and I immersed myself in my studies and the particular freedom known as college life. A few years after graduation, I became both a career gal and wife, and for a while that was enough for me. But as soon as you say, “I do,” others start asking questions like, “When are you going to start a family?”

My husband was ready, and I knew from watching him with our many nieces and nephews that he would be a great father, but I was afraid-afraid of babies (I was really never around any until I became an aunt), afraid of losing myself, afraid of how my life would have to change (and you all know how I feel about change), and most importantly, I was afraid I’d be a lousy mother.

I also suffered from what my husband half-jokingly refers to as the “me” syndrome, and unfortunately this syndrome resonates throughout my family as well, so how the heck was I going to give my all to a child? But something also seemed to be missing, and a husband, dog, and cat just didn’t quite feel like a complete family, so I made the decision to add one more. It turns out that the decision to enlarge our family was the easy part, and actually getting pregnant was the hard part. I had been involved in a pretty serious auto accident as a senior in college, and some internal injuries had left me with scar tissue-basically I was told I probably wouldn’t have a baby the “normal” (man, I hate that word) way.

My husband and I decided that we were not going to put ourselves through what we had seen friends of ours go through just to have a child, and we went on with life thinking that if things never changed we would be fine. Anyway, things were fine-I had just started a new teaching job and we had bought our first house, so now may not have been the best time…

What is it that they say about the best-laid plans? Just when we thought we would always be a family of two, surprise! I think I took a total of three different brands of home pregnancy tests, partly to be sure, and partly because my husband didn’t believe the results of the first two! I even had to take another test in my doctor’s office because even she didn’t believe it.

My pregnancy was pretty unremarkable, although I got as big as a cow from the front, and had to be munching on crackers constantly because when my stomach was empty I got nauseous. I was also in some serious denial when it came to finally purchasing maternity clothing. I still remember seeing one of the other doctors in the practice during one visit-I had on a blouse and a vest, and this “male” doctor quickly proclaimed that if buttons could talk, mine would be screaming right now! My husband and him roared with laughter but I didn’t think it was even the tiniest bit funny-I felt like a guest in an all-male club, and I vowed that there would be no way this particular doctor would be anywhere near me when my delivery time came…

As the due date approached, my mind became mush-I was losing car keys, sunglasses, anything not nailed down or physically attached to my body. Numbers just wouldn’t stay in my head, and I kept changing the baby’s due date every time I talked with anybody-I did it so often my husband wasn’t even sure when it was! I also spent countless evenings looking up girls’ names on Websites (I was sure I was having a girl, although my husband wasn’t convinced-he was picking out only boys’ names), and reading excerpts from “What to Expect When You Are Expecting,” my new go-to book for everything. My bag was packed-check. I had some soothing music-check. I had tennis balls for back massages and a stuffed animal for a focus point-final check. And I knew all the signs and symptoms of labor, or so I thought.

Funny thing is that 11 years and four days ago was also a Sunday and I was lying around the house the Saturday before because my back hurt and I just couldn’t get comfortable. I wasn’t happy with my husband because a co-worker and his wife had called and asked if they could “pop” in on their way home-they had a gift for the baby so my husband said yes even though I said no. I had to drag myself up out of bed to straighten up the house, but I think they must have sensed my discomfort because thankfully they didn’t stay long.

11:30, Saturday night, my back pain had me doubled over, so my husband called my practice, and they instructed us to go to the hospital just to be on the safe side. The car ride took forever, and when we got there, we had to park in Timbuktu because the parking garage was closed. My progress resembled some funky new dance steps with a step, step, ooh, step, step, ooh, and there was no wheel chair greeting like they do in all the good medical dramas on TV. We were instructed to take the elevator up to the maternity ward because walking would do me good.

And the doctor on call that night? It was my husband’s good buddy who had given me clothing advice only a few months earlier! Everyone seemed so surprised at how far along I was (7 centimeters)- I wasn’t at all surprised. The doctor left me with a decision to make-get the shot or not-and I was half tempted to try to make it through on my own when my husband nearly knocked me off the table when he screamed, “This isn’t the old days anymore. GET THE SHOT!”

Unfortunately, the shot slowed things way down, and when it was time for the final pushing, I started whining, and the doctor asked me what I was worried about. Tact was not my strong point at that time, and I said I was worried the baby’s head was as big as my husband’s-I was tired! Finally, after applying several layers of oil to her head and a final push, my daughter came into the world at 11:30 Sunday morning, sporting a rather odd shaped banana head that I covered with quite a few hats until it rounded out. And me, I couldn’t sit down without a cushion for three months, and at 11 years and four days old, there are times that she is still a royal pain in the tushy, but I couldn’t imagine my life without her, and I love this adventure they call motherhood. Goodnight everybody!


  1. All my thoughts about motherhood completely mirror yours. I was the one at work who used to go hide in the bathroom whenever someone brought their baby into the office to be shown off--so I was pleasantly surprised to find out how much capacity for love I had with my own children.

    Happy Birthday to your little miss.

    Shelly at

  2. I am a new follower from TMBC! I invite you to come over and follow back!

  3. Susan, the pictures are great. Happy Birthday to your pretty girl!! It is definitely an adventure going through the ups and downs of motherhood. The joys are wonderful! Thanks for sharing your memories too.

  4. Great post! Happy Birthday to your daughter! It's amazing how quickly they grow up.

  5. Nicely told! I remember "What to expect when your expecting" too. Yeah, it still wasn't what I expected:)
    That's a precious "surprise" you have there, a belated Happy Birthday to her!

  6. That was beautiful! I love birth stories, just not my own!

    I was just like you - I had never held a baby or done anything! I remember the nurse coming in and asking me if I wanted to change the diaper and I said, "No, that's ok, you can do it!" I totally waited until I got home and could screw up in private.

    Ahhh, big heads and babies. Mine got stuck in my pelvic bone and they... it was gross. I had a donut and ice for 2 months so I feel your pain.

    Happy Birthday to the both of you!!

  7. Shelly, I never wanted to hold babies either, but that certainly changed!

    Melissa, thanks for the stop over. I'll come by and check out your blog.

    Septembermom, I was too tired to dig around for infant pictures, but I did have a hard time choosing the others.

    Stacey, You're right. I still can't believe it's been 11 years!

    'MOPG,' I had the second book in the series too-"What to Expect the First Year." By the second kid I tossed the book. LOL!

    'The Girl Next Door Grows Up,' things were so bad that doctors were considering whether to operate down there. Instead, they gave me a shot and told my husband to get me home quick before it wore off! Thank goodness the second was much easier...

  8. I'm sure I would have been pretty annoyed by the doc who said that about your buttons! That definitely had me cracking up though:)

    Three months is a long time for not being able to sit down without pain. OUch! Your daughter is such a cutie!

  9. I love this post Susan. Amazing how you remember every single moment of the pregnancy, the birth, the upbringing. Very touching!

  10. Monique, it's pretty funny now, but it wasn't then.

    Areeba, I can remember down to the minute detail a conversation I had with a friend or retell an experience like it was yesterday, but do I know where I put my keys? No...

  11. Susan, I'm so glad I had the opportunity to read this post. Bravo! Well done. Sorry, but I laughed at your thoughts that the baby's night might be as big as your husband's. Sorry, too, you had that stinky doctor...but everything turned out alright anyway. Nice memory for your daughter (maybe when she's older) and happy belated birthday.

  12. Happy belated birthday to your daughter! What a journey motherhood is, isn't it? I'm glad it all worked out as it did for you - sometimes life's surprises keep us on our toes and looking forward to more.

  13. Alyssa, unfortunately my husband reminds me about that comment every once in a while...

    Tesa, the adventure continues, right?

  14. What a beautiful post! I am in awe at how much you actually understood about motherhood before you became a mother. You wrote, "I was afraid-afraid of babies (I was really never around any until I became an aunt), afraid of losing myself, afraid of how my life would have to change (and you all know how I feel about change), and most importantly, I was afraid I’d be a lousy mother." I don't think I had the self-awareness to even realize that all these things were going to be an issue (and they were ISSUES by the way.) I was stuck on thinking about how fun and cute my baby was going to be, with no conception about how radically my life was going to change and make me forget almost completely what it was like to eat sitting down, sleep a full night, wear clothes without stains, pee by myself, etc, etc, etc. I love the pics you inserted within the post too!! Your children are so very lucky to have such an amazing mom like you, Susan!!

  15. Susan, I love to read stories about the adventures of motherhood, and yours sounds like an adventure. Happy birthday to your precious daughter, and thanks for sharing!

  16. Happy birthday to your little girl! she looks like a sweetie in all her photos.

    I was in labor with my son for 31 hours, my daughter for three, and both times the epidural only worked on one side!

    thanks for your comment on my last post, life does throw you a loop at times.

  17. "Organic," I was over 30 (and pretty set in my ways)and I had seen my sister and sister-in-laws lives after kids, so I went into this with both eyes open. Thank you so much for your comments!

    Flory, I think we are all on a roller coaster ride, don't you?

    Molly, thank goodness you didn't have trouble with your second. 31 hours?! Ugh!

  18. I was in high school in the 80's too - It would have been more socially acceptable to have a career goal of becoming a pole dancer than to admit to hoping to become a wife and mother.

    Happy Birthday to your dd.

  19. I am so glad that it turned out you were able to conceive even after the accident. Sounds like you had a pretty tough birth with your little girl. Isn't it funny how a child just seems to complete us and our family. I love that you wrapped it up the way you did. You made me laugh with the royal pain in the tushie remark. LOL

  20. Life's what happens when you're busy making plans! Mwahahaha Why is it that something always happens when you're thinking of doing something else? But when that something turns out to be this beautiful girl, wow! :)

  21. I went through a "me" stage too before having my son. I was quite selfish and didn't think I would be a good mom. It's funny how things change once you have a child. They become your world and suddenly "me" isn't so important. I couldn't be more blessed.

  22. Susan Tipton, you are absolutely right! It was career all the way...

    "Clueless Mama," yes, it was a tough one, but I forgot enough about the discomfort to try for one more. And the tushie remark? Very true.

    Hypermom, I can honestly tell you that my life has evolved around the unexpected, and I kind of like it that way.

    "Mommy is Green," now that the kids are getting older, I am trying to carve out a little more me time...


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