Twenty years ago if you told me that I’d one day be sitting in the middle of an auditorium with a dry face and emotions so entangled with one another that no amount of therapy could unwind them, I would have called you a—well, I would have told you it was impossible. But a few weeks ago, we watched our first-born son walk across the stage to accept his high school diploma—to celebrate the end of one season and transition into another as he embarks on a new journey to further his education in college…
I discovered I was pregnant with Caleb, our firstborn, in a slightly unconventional way. We ran over a rodent in the road on our way back from dinner one night. I bawled. You would’ve thought my husband ran over a human. Earlier that evening I’d eaten all the food on my plate as well as his. And I was still hungry. So, we agreed to stop at our local pharmacy and pick up a pregnancy test—you know, to be sure.
There’s no way I’m pregnant. I thought. I’ve taken birth control for almost 5 years straight without missing a day. I’m sure something else is going on with my body. As I waited in the bathroom of our immaculate and perfectly furnished apartment, I thought about life with a little one in tow and decided I wasn’t ready for all that responsibility. So, surely, I’d get a negative result.
I thought wrong.
Who knew that two vertical pink lines could change your life in such a dynamic way? Yet, there they were, staring at me like twin lasers piercing right into my soul. I felt a lot of things in that moment: Would I be the mom this little one needed me to be? Was I ready to commit my life to nurturing another life? Was this something I truly wanted?
I walked out of the bathroom with that little white, plastic applicator and handed it to my husband who’d been anxiously waiting. He was elated. I, on the other hand, had to remind myself to breathe—something I’d need to remind myself of often in the coming weeks, months, and years as I ventured into the uncharted territory of motherhood.
Toward the end of my first trimester, I had my first ultrasound. Since this was our first baby, we agreed to find out what we were having. I wanted it to be a girl more than I had any real certainty or maternal instinct guiding me to that knowledge. After all, I was a girl. I knew what girls needed and how to take care of them. Never mind that my husband grew up a boy, and together we were well equipped to raise either. I wasn’t particularly logical at that time. Many of my irrational thoughts were driven by fear and it was apparent.
The nurse smiled at me, “Well, you’re having a boy! Congratulations!”
I’d love to say I celebrated as joy-filled tears made their way down my cheeks, but I did not. Instead of celebrating the ability to both create and nurture life in my womb, I cried tears of fear and felt like I was crumbling into a million pieces of despair. I don’t know how to do this. I won’t know how to do this. I can’t do this. Those thoughts raced through my head like wildfire.
The truth is no one automatically knows how to do this.
You can’t know how to love a human that feels so deeply connected to you in the most beautiful, soulful way. You can’t predict that the moment that precious little life enters the world that your world will feel the biggest and smallest it’s ever been. You don’t truly understand until the moment you feel it that nothing will ever matter more than protecting, nurturing, and loving that life into adulthood.
No matter how many times people tell you to take in every moment like it’s the last, nothing will ever prepare you for the day when you release that same little one into the world—the one you held so closely to your chest as they took their first breath—to become all they are meant to be. That day Caleb walked across the stage, unlike the night in the car or the afternoon at the OB/GYN, no tears fell. I think the tears were finding their way through the shock and fear of what I was witnessing.
As I reflect on 18 years of memories, from birth to the toddler years and beyond, I still sometimes think to myself, I can’t do this. Except now instead of changing diapers, potty training, or processing emotions, I’m feeling the incomprehensible weight of letting go. All those things that felt like burdens, I find myself longing for. But I don’t stay there long.
I can hold the beauty of the memories, the weight of what is no longer, and the joy and excitement for what lies ahead as our beautiful boy-turned-young man launches out into a world both known and unknown. We can absolutely do this.
How are you embracing the newness of your next season of life?Leave a Comment
Carolyn Davis says
Great writing! I enjoyed it