Sunday, May 10, 2009

Becoming

If you were to ask 10 different women about the day that they became a mother for the first time, I'm certain that you would get vastly different answers from each of them. At the same time, I'm fairly sure that most of them would describe the day that their oldest child was born as the day they became a mother. My journey with motherhood began before that day, though. I was a mother long before Aidan arrived.

By this point in my life, most people that have known me for any length of time probably know the rough details of the last 10 years. That Tom had cancer, and that our life as parents began a bit earlier than it appears now. That there was another baby. My first baby. I became a mother December 6, 1999.

On that day, one of the most memorable in my life, two life changing events took place. Tom finished his radiation treatments that afternoon. Earlier in the day, I found out that despite the enormous odds stacked against us, I was pregnant. Somehow, with the surgery, radiation, recent birth control pills and sperm banking efforts, we had managed to do the impossible. We were going to be parents.

In that moment, that highly unlikely moment, I was transformed. I was a mother. No longer was my primary concern Tom or me, it was this little tiny life. Purely as a defense mechanism, I had convinced myself that there was no way it could happen. I knew that the odds clearly were not in our favor, and did not want to get my hopes up. But it did happen.

I have never in my life felt such unbridled joy and complete terror simultaneously. Not having prepared for the possibility that our brief attempts at conception would work, I was in a bit of a state of shock. Glorious shock. The previous few months had been some of the hardest in my life, but none of that mattered anymore. Tom was healthy, and we had a future to worry about.

For a while, I was happy. I was glowing. It was as though there was a reason for everything that happened. There was hope.

That all came to an end sitting in an exam room. The baby was dead, the heartbeat was gone. And what we had wanted more than anything else in the world was stolen away from us forever. The joy. The innocence. The unwavering optimism. Gone. I lost so much that day. In addition to losing my child, I lost much more.

What I gained from that experience I would not trade for anything though. I have loved my children, all of them, from the moment I knew I was pregnant. I have treasured every single second of my pregnancies. I take nothing for granted. Until you have lost something so precious, you have no idea how much you loved it. How much you needed it.

I became a mother almost ten years ago for the first time. Though there is no way for me to ever really know, to this day I am convinced that she was a girl. Her name would have been Hannah. She is with me, every day. The constant wondering never ends. What she would be like now, who would she look like, what would she love? I miss her and I love her. And I hope that she is keeping an eye on her little brothers and sisters. Because of her, I became a mother. She is my angel.

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