We would like to thank Children’s of Alabama for partnering with us on our “How I Became a Mother” series. Every time a baby is born in Birmingham, Children’s of Alabama is there to offer support. Ranked among the best pediatric medical centers in the nation, we are thankful to have this state-of-the-art facility and these compassionate care providers available to Birmingham families.
My foray into the wild world of motherhood began just over seven years ago when my husband and I were trying to get pregnant. I was eager to join the ranks of friends who had already given birth or were about to, and I felt discouraged and fearful of being “left behind” in this stage of life. In hindsight, I wish I would have listened a littler closer to the calling over my life. Timing is everything. It’s not that I wasn’t meant to be a mother. I always knew I was. Maybe that’s where this story really begins.
In the Beginning
I have always been the “mother” figure. In the lives of my friends, certainly in the life of my younger brother (God bless him for putting up with me for so many years), I was always looking out for other people. I earned the nickname “Mama Sarah” in high school because I was always reminding friends of projects due or tests coming up or items required for the next band trip. I didn’t mind the nickname at all. In fact, I would say I was proud to be the one always helping people. They knew they could count on me, and I loved having people depend on me.
Jump ahead a few years (about ten, give or take a few), and there I was again in a position to care for someone (two someones to be exact). Except this time the two someones I would be caring for would need me 24/7/365. That need rocked my world. I don’t know what silly notion I had in my head of what motherhood was going to be like, but I certainly didn’t think it was going to be as hard as it was. And boy was it ever hard.
My girls made their grand entrances into this world in a whirlwind of chaos and uncertainty. My pregnancy became more complicated the longer it went, and I guess they’d decided they’d had enough with just over eight weeks until I was supposed to be “due” (the pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes didn’t help matters, either). I never dreamed I would have a c-section, much less an emergency one. I certainly never thought I’d spend the first three weeks of their lives without them at home. Not having my girls at home with me was a mixed blessing in that it allowed me time to recover from my c-section, but it did not allow for the precious bonding time I didn’t realize I so desperately needed.
The First Years
Because of the circumstances of their birth, bonding and caring for my girls was a challenge. I was just plain exhausted 99% of the time. Thank goodness for my village. Family, friends, and an online community of moms like me were my lifeline. If I could give a new mom any piece of advice, it would be this: don’t go it alone. Motherhood is hard. Surround yourself with people who can lift you up and carry you when you don’t think you can carry yourself. I know for a fact I would not have made it through the first years of motherhood without my support system.
Motherhood is a Journey, Not a Destination
Reflecting back on the last six years, I’ve determined motherhood is a journey, not a destination. I always thought becoming a mother would fulfill me or make me feel “complete” as a person. Instead of completing me, it gave me a new sense of direction and challenged me to see the world in a new way. While it is not all-encompassing, motherhood has changed me. I don’t know if I’ve been changed for the better, but I know I have been changed for good.