I became a mother six years ago. I very much enjoyed my pregnancy and I even relish the memory of giving birth (much easier to enjoy in hindsight) but it didn’t take me long to be certain I never ever wanted to care for an infant ever again. The first three months of my daughter’s life were grueling. My initiation into motherhood brutal.
My body ached all over.
My tailbone popped during delivery and I couldn’t sit for months.
My knees felt like they were tearing any time I put pressure on them.
My wrists were inflamed and required braces.
My breasts were swollen and tender.
My nipples were cracked and each time my baby nursed (which was all the time), a thousand invisible needles pricked me.
That was on the outside. On the inside, I was a bigger mess yet.
I was tired. I was lonely. I was overwhelmed.
I was tired. I was scared. I was anxious.
I was tired.
Did I say I was tired?
I cried every day. I don’t believe it was postpartum depression because my husband felt pretty much the same way (well, except for the sore nipples). I believe my reaction was normal under the circumstances. I had a baby who hated to be swaddled, hated her car seat, hated her stroller. A baby who didn’t sleep much, cried a lot and nursed constantly. She was sucking the life out of me. Literally.
It makes perfect sense then that we resorted to extreme measures to ensure I NEVER got pregnant again. We’ve never regretted that decision.
To my great relief, time passed and mothering became easier. Our high maintenance infant has blossomed into what may be the kindest, sweetest, most easy going, even tempered and cheerful little girl who has ever existed. Objectively speaking of course.
Yet being her mother has stretched me close to my limits. I admire women who have many children but I could not be one of them. Or so I thought…
And then, last week, when another wave of nausea sent me to the fridge in search of something sour, a thought fluttered ever so gently into my mind: could I be pregnant? Of course it was almost impossible…but what if…?
To my surprise, the possibility didn’t scare me. The idea didn’t freak me out. I realized I was…excited…eager…happy! I could already picture myself blowing raspberries through each contraction. I could hear myself breathe and grunt through each push. I could faintly make up a little scrunched up face staring at me. I already knew whether I’d vaccinate or not, co sleep or not, use cloth or disposable diapers.
A second baby presented the opportunity to fret less about the details first time moms get buried under, and enjoy the experience more. I now knew the burning nipples would heal and the sleepless nights would pass. I was confident that, this time around, I wouldn’t be slamming doors in anger when roused for yet another night feeding.
In my mind’s eye, it looked so appealing: a second chance. A chance to do better, to be better.
The passing thought didn’t grow any bigger: it knew, that statistics were not on its side. But it made itself comfortable and waited- not so patiently- to be confirmed or not.
A few days later, after an early morning bathroom visit, the thought flew away. I was not at all surprised, a smidgen disappointed and mostly relieved.
I love my life as it is.
I love being just one little girl’s mommy.
I love sleeping in most mornings and taking naps every day (whoever invented Quiet Time was a genius!)
I love traveling the world (it is undeniably cheaper to buy three plane tickets than four.)
I love that I can give my husband and my daughter the best of myself because there is margin in my life. And the truth is: a new baby would have erased that margin.
I will not be a mother of two but presented with the prospect to raise another child, I would embrace it with open arms and an open heart. I now know that I have grown into a person who would welcome the challenge as a privilege and not a burden. I have come a long way. I am no longer limited by my own limitations.
I did not find out that I was pregnant but I discovered something else within me: I discovered more courage, more strength, more resilience, more grit. I discovered more peace and most of all I discovered more love.
You don’t often get the chance to find out you are more than who you thought you were.
I’m glad I did.
Next week’s essay is titled “Earning my brown belt in BJJ For The Street”. Subscribe using the widget below and it will be waiting in your inbox when it’s published.