I’ll be honest. Motherhood looks completely different than I ever imagined it. This coming from the mom who just laid her 19 month old daughter down for the night with a CPAP mask on. I would have never guessed all those years ago this is what my motherhood journey would entail.
My oldest came into the world just over five years ago. I almost can’t believe it’s been that long and in other ways it seems worlds longer. The labor with her was long. Much longer than I would have ever anticipated. Both my mother and grandmother had fast labor and deliveries with all of their babies. I thought perhaps that would be my case also. But it wasn’t.
It took hours. I even went to the birth center too early only to be sent back home via cab. When David, my mom and I arrived back at our flat, the last thing I wanted to do was labor at home in our tiny place. I felt claustrophobic stuck inside those small walls with the heat blasting. Instead, David and I headed out in the middle of the night and walked for a couple of hours around our neighborhood in the cold night air in London. I laugh when I think about it now. How funny we must have looked, circling the area a handful of times as I would stop periodically during a contraction.
Eventually we headed back into the birth center and labored there the rest of the day before my oldest finally decided to join this world. Her delivery was not without it’s own drama that almost ended up in an emergency c-section. The umbilical chord had wrapped around her neck causing her heart rate to drop making the midwives extremely uncomfortable. After discovering the hospital OR’s were full, they opted for an episiotomy to get her out as quick as possible. Before I knew it, people flooded into my room as she came screaming into the world. They placed this little blue baby on my stomach long enough to clamp and cut the chord. Off she went with a group of people I didn’t know as I laid there, in complete shock, not evening knowing whether or not I had just given birth to a boy or girl.
She took my idea of motherhood and completely dumped it upside-down from the moment she entered the world. I fully expected a peaceful newborn who would eat and sleep, on a perfect three hour schedule. Instead, she spent a majority of her time screaming at me, for hours on end as I tried every single thing I could possibly think of in my sleep-deprived state of mind to soothe her.
Shortly after her first birthday, I found myself in desperate need of sleep training her. I was expecting our second baby and was ready for her to sleep in her own crib, through the night. Many nap times in those days of sleep training I spent laying on the floor in her room, sick as could be, one arm resting on her back through the crib slats trying to get her to finally sleep just so I could have a moment of quiet. Just before our middle was born, she started sleeping in her own crib through the night, a few short months before her second birthday.
My middle came, much quicker than her sister. Her birth was completely magical. I couldn’t have planned it any better myself. A complete difference than her sister as she flew into the world with no complications. I held my tiny newborn from the moment she arrived only letting her go briefly so the midwife could get her height and weight. David and I and our little girl were home four hours after she was born.
Adjusting to two was difficult at first but soon enough we all fell into routine. It was easy to take them places, shopping, play dates, walks. It felt like I was coming into my role of motherhood, with confidence.
Enter, third child who has thrown us some major curve balls I would have never seen coming. Her heart issues were a complete shock to me as well as her diagnosis with Down syndrome. It wasn’t something I had pictured being a part of our story and I couldn’t help the emotions during the pregnancy. It felt like someone had just shaken me up and dumped me upside-down with all of the news.
She came into this world quick, like her middle sister, and blue like her older sister. Only her skin color was due to her heart defects, not the umbilical chord around her neck. Similar to her oldest sister, I only got to her hold her for a brief moment, long enough for chord cutting before she was whisked away to an isolate. Only her story is much different than her older sister’s.
She’s not asleep yet tonight. I’m trying a different routine with her to try to help get her more used to the CPAP mask. I stayed in her room awhile, gently rocking her to spa music and the sounds of the ocean waves. I laid down with her in her crib for a few minutes while she made her soft babble noises, the familiar soft sounds she makes when she is on the verge of falling asleep. I love that sound. It is probably one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard.
But I never dreamed of this being part of my motherhood journey. But it is. And I wouldn’t change it. Sleepless nights with newborns, fighting sisters, so much laundry, and all the dishes, medical diagnosis, CPAP, special needs… None of it was in my vision for motherhood.
But what was, little children who would look like David and I. Little children who would call me mama someday, little children who smile, laugh, sing, and dance. Little children who have caused such a huge perspective change in my own heart as God uses them to refine me.
Motherhood is exhausting, unpredictable, painful, really hard. In the hardship, in the trials and the unexpected, there is this undeniable hope of the Lord as He uses this journey to bring me closer to Him, more and more and more each and every day, through each and every trial, each and every unexpected situation that comes up. He’s got us all and has the most perfect journey for each of us.