Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Whiplash We Call Motherhood

Eleven years ago (plus 9 months, if you include pregnancy), I physically became a mother. I say physically, because I feel that most women, if not all, possess qualities that are mother-like even if they do not have children of their own. If we use the definition that I was introduced to, it would look something like this:










Our first baby was born on this day, 11 years ago. 

CD was adorable with his brown hair and chubby baby body. After nine hours of an induced labor (including a couple of hours of pushing), 1 day after his due date, our big bundle of ... well, joy, (ahem)... was born. 

Wait! What? I thought birth was some beautiful experience (which it is, just not the way you hear). I thought you were supposed to bring home this perfect baby, and your natural mothering skills would jump in, and you would spend your days in bliss. Flowers blooming in all the rooms you enter with your baby. Soft, peaceful, sweetness, music playing, relaxing and love abounding. 

Someone must have confused having a new baby with a day at the spa.

A whopping 9 pounds and 3 ounces and a 15 inch head circumference left unchangeable marks and scars upon my body. A third degree tear and stretch marks all over and a forever stretched out abdomen. Next, breast feeding troubles (flat nipples, plus a misguided baby tongue = cracks and blood = nipple shield for the entirety of the year that he nursed). Welcome to your new body! 

He was also jaundiced and had to spend a few days living in a bili light suit case wearing coverings for his eyes. I particularly disliked this because when you have a new baby, you just want to snuggle the little one. We thought our house looked like a drug house from the constant odd glowing shining through the windows. 

This was not the last of the trials. We had messy diapers that required a wardrobe change about every time he had a diaper change. We experienced a colicky baby that had reflux and woke up to nurse every hour and then would spit most of it up.

Literally, feedings every hour, day and night. 

My husband and I were delirious. 

I would wake up panicked searching the bed for the baby (when he was in his bassinet). I was up feeding the baby and because he was fussing, my husband sat up in his bed, put the pillow over his shoulder and began patting  it. I asked him what he was doing. "I'm burping the baby!" "Babe, I have the baby." I also would gently rock my husband at night when the baby would start to cry. 

I cried. 

I felt inadequate.

I had no idea what I was doing.

I am sad to admit that once while this baby who was in pain was crying (which he did constantly), I banged my head repeatedly into the wall while yelling for him to 'shut up'. Not one of my shining moments. We started to get used to our new life and when he was about 10 months old, we discovered we were to be blessed with another baby. It's usually after it is too late, you decide it probably isn't the best time to have another baby. 

No turning back. 

CD had gotten sick, and wasn't ever getting all the way better. This was before my more holistic days, so there was a constant string of antibiotics and then nystatin to get rid of the yeast infections. He was not getting better. 

Christmas morning, when he was 14 months old (I was about 4 months pregnant), we were visiting my family in Phoenix. My husband and I were sleeping, but quickly woke up when we heard an odd gurgling sound, which I suspected was diarrhea--since that was a constant. I got up to change him, but his body was twitching and his mouth was making that awful sound. 

A seizure. 

We took him to the ER where they gave him drugs to stop the seizures, though he kept seizing. We were flown to the children's hospital via helicopter. By now, he had been seizing for an hour or more. They did a spinal tap, x-rays, an MRI, blood tests, and an EEG. He did not have meningitis or epilepsy. It was decided it was febrile seizures--seizures that occur when the body's temperature gets too high, which I learned for our son was about 103° F. 

Upon returning home, we met with our doctor and did a stool study (yep, about as fun as it sounds!) and found that he had Rotavirus (which they now vaccinate for, but I have found it does not do much good). We eventually got him doing better, but he did continue to have seizures (until he was about 5 years old) including one where he stopped breathing (9-11, ambulance, yay!); we were given a prescription to prevent the seizures, and eventually weaned him off. This was probably the scariest and most stressful time in our lives. 

He outgrew these episodes. Luckily, none of our other kids have had one, as it is hereditary. As tough of a baby as he was, he is a really solid, good kid now.  

Since then, we have had 5 more children. They are beautiful, smart, creative, talented, thoughtful, and, of course, unique.

 In order:
Boy, CD, (9 lbs 3 oz.)11 years old
Girl, SB, (9 lbs 6 oz.) 9 years old
Boy, TD, (8 lbs 8 oz.) 7 years old
Girl, KM, (8 lbs 7 oz.) 5 years old
Boy, CJ, (8 lbs 0 oz.) 3 years old
Girl, SM, (8 lbs 10 oz.) 1 year old 

Our family about a year ago taken by Nicole Christiansen Photography.

I wouldn't trade these days for all of the money in the world (okay, well, some of the days I probably would trade). Days are long, and nights are sometimes hard. But, as a scripture in the Book of Mormon states, there must be opposition in all things. If not, we would not know the bitter nor the sweet; we could not know the sorrow nor the joys; we couldn't understand the chaos nor the calm; we have to have the frustrations to have the laughter

Though motherhood is often a shock, a surprise, a rude awakening, or a baptism by fire, I feel that it is also a grand school that is more complete than any other school I know. I have learned to be more caring, how to survive on little sleep (thank you Dr. Pepper), how to be a doctor and a nurse, a tutor, a teacher, a maid, a chef, a mediator, a healer (of wounds, spirit, health, etc), a friend, a counselor, a problem solver, and, obviously a parent--though I am still learning that. 

I exercise more faith. 
I pray harder and with more intent. 
I try to listen to promptings more closely.

What other job in the world allows you to develop and learn and use as many skills as that of a "mother"?

I would daresay, none. No other job can match the magnitude, dedication, and learning to be found in the role of a mother. Nothing can replace a mother in the life of a child.

I am grateful to all of the mothers in my life, the ones I have personally observed, the ones who have been bonus moms to me, and the love and advice and understanding of good friends and mothers in my life. And, of course, my own mom, from whom I learned much. 

© Wendy  2012


  1. Love this post!!! I agree that the first baby is a shock, though I do think yours was a baptism by fire! And yet we have ha six of them. I do wonder how I kept having more. Just crazy mom life stuff. There truly is opposition for wonderful blessings. Could enjoy it all with out the craziness ;)

  2. I got a bit emotional thinking about the blessings of motherhood (which surprised me a little). It is hard, but I wouldn't change it for anything. And yes, how did I manage to have 6 kids?!?!