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.
Technically, I became a mom at the tender age of 23. I was single.
But man, I was so pumped walking out of the animal shelter with my new baby, a 10-week-old feral cat with an assigned name of Belinda.
My first motherly duty? Promptly changing her name to Nellie. I remember feeling so protective of her. She was mine, and I felt a lot of love.
Seven years later, I became a mother again, when my then-fiance gifted me a beagle puppy for my 30th birthday.
Being a mom to a cat hadn’t been all that challenging. She ate, slept, used the litter box, and did normal cat things. But the puppy, with house training and frequent walks and listening to her squeal all night, every night for the first two months … required a bit more effort.
We survived the puppy stage, got married, and did married-couple things.
We bought our first house. We went out on dates. We made spontaneous decisions to go out of town because, well, we could.
Then, in our fourth year of marriage, I had a feeling. My husband and I worked at the same place then, and I took the pregnancy test in the staff bathroom of our office building.
When I saw it was positive, I made a beeline for his office, and with that, every plan of doing a cute “Surprise, we’re pregnant!” announcement flew out the window. I burst in, slammed the door, and showed him the test.
While I didn’t have a cute gift for him like a little onesie or something that said Daddy, the moment was perfect. We cried and hugged and smiled. And I did not do one productive thing the rest of that day.
In January 2015, our baby girl was born. My induction was scheduled for 6:00 a.m. on January 14th. The night before, my husband and I ate dinner at Outback for our “last meal.” I Facetimed with my two younger brothers, and I suddenly realized I was leaving my old life behind. I barely slept, thinking about my own childhood and missing the days when we didn’t have a care in the world. Now, this big job was looming over me. I had to not only birth this baby (which I was terrified of), but I had to raise her. Raise her to be a good person. I started to panic.
At 2:56 p.m., she came into the world and I officially became a mother of a human. There were tears, and smiles, and laughs, and it was beautiful. My husband didn’t even pass out during the labor part, which I thought was a win.
The next few weeks are now a blur. I consistently went from ecstatic to bursting into tears in 4 seconds, and I was diagnosed with post-partum depression. I was so mad at myself for being inexplicably upset. Why was I crying when I had this perfect baby whom I loved more than anything in the entire world? After getting that under control, my little family found our groove.
It didn’t take long to realize that all those people who had said, “Your life is going to change!” when I was pregnant (and we rolled our eyes each time, because, Duh, we know our lives are going to change. We’re having a baby. Thank you for your input.) were oh, so right. And we thought we knew, but we had no idea.
We never really discussed having more kids. But somehow, between nursing and working full-time and trying to regain my pre-baby body, I forgot to take my birth control. And I eventually stopped filling the prescription.
On December 20, 2015, when our little girl was 11 months old, I showed my husband another positive pregnancy test.
There were once again tears and smiles, but I was secretly thinking, How the heck are we going to do this?
The second pregnancy was more challenging than my first. I was more tired, more emotional, and more of a total basket case. Part of that was having a toddler in the house, but I think a lot of it was my own fear of taking care of two kids under the age of two.
In August of 2016, our second baby girl was born, and I found myself as the mother of another little one. The labor was pretty similar to my first, except this time, my husband did have to make a beeline for the bathroom when he saw a lot of blood that he wasn’t expecting. I still give him a hard time about that one.
Up until this point, I knew I was a mother. I had one baby girl and two pets that I cared for and loved unconditionally. But there was a specific moment when I really felt like a mom.
It was when the hospital door opened and my first baby girl came into the room and met her little sister.
My heart had never been more full. When I look at photos from that moment, I get teary.
My oldest is now two, and my youngest is nine months old. Every day, we face challenges. But every day, in the midst of the chaos, I’m happy.
I’m their mother.
It makes me more thankful for my own mother, because I truly didn’t understand what she went through raising me and my two brothers. And now, I get it. And I couldn’t love her more.
Being a mom is hard. It’s raw. It’s dirty. And sometimes, some days, I wish I could escape.
But when my 2 year old says “Muh-mew! (Love you)”, or my baby reaches for me with a huge grin, I know in my heart I was meant to have this role.
I love being their mother. And I kind of want to do it all over again.
(Husband, if you’re reading, don’t have a heart attack.)