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The Mother of All Gifts. Literally.

If I think about who, what, where and when I am, the answers usually involve being a mother.  The why and the how do as well; however, the responses are much more intricate.  I’m unsure as to whether I’ve always wanted to be a mother, but I seem to have been born with a hyperempathy that has compelled me to want to care for and protect people, to hug complete strangers, to feed them, to wipe their tears away.

When I was younger, I couldn’t count myself among the little lasses who dream of jumping on the back of that prince’s white horse or who fantasise about walking down a petal-lined aisle.  I do remember, though, reading about Josephine Baker and her melting pot of adopted children, and it made me smile.  I thought what a beautiful life it would be to be surrounded by life.

The first time I became pregnant, I was 32.  From the time I read about Miss Baker until then, I knew I wanted to have children.  Not just one or two, but a lot.  I used to say I wanted at least as many as the offensive line-up of an American football team.

When I met my ex-husband, he made it clear that he did not want to have any children.  After he said this, I questioned my desire to have my own brood, asking myself if I really wanted to be a mother or was I only interested in children, or if there was a difference.  For me, there was a difference, and I was sure I wanted both.  I didn’t only want to work with children, teach children or be an aunt or godparent; I wanted to mother as only a mother can.  But because my ex-husband was adamant about not wanting children, and because I was in love – a love that I had never known up to that point in my life – I agreed that we wouldn’t have children.

Love was not the only factor.  Fear was another.  And in retrospect, I think I used love as an excuse to mask my fear of becoming a mother.  I knew that the razor-sharp emotions of a mother, steeped in unconditional love, ran so deep so as to render me raw at any given moment.  When one is raw, one is exponentially more susceptible to pain and sorrow.  Yes, one is simultaneously extremely vulnerable to overwhelming bliss, pride, and affection, but even then, I would be raw, my heart aching with positive sentiments.

I began to truly believe that I could live a fulfilled life without being a mother, without having a child.  Until my seven-month-old nephew came to visit.  I watched his fascination with the cracks and holes in our hardwood floors, with a water bottle, with his food.  Witnessing his sense of wonder and listening to his word-noises made me so happy; that time with him is tattooed on my soul.  And I’m not referring to one of those fading henna tattoos.  After he left, I cried for a week.

My ex-husband knew why I was crying, and we agreed to start trying to have a child.  Attempting to conceive was not without its difficulties.  After aiming to become pregnant for a year, I was discouraged.  It seemed that all the women in my family and all my friends need only sneeze, and their bellies were swollen with a fetus.  I decided to consult a fertility specialist and learned that I might have trouble conceiving.  The fertility specialist scheduled a second ultrasound so we could learn the severity to determine whether the next step should be fertility drugs.  At this second ultrasound, the sonographer saw something on the monitor, a dot which she said looked like an embryo.  She asked if there was a chance that I was pregnant, and I told her it wasn’t likely as we had been trying for so long without any luck.  She told me to jump off the table and gave me a pregnancy test.  I was five weeks pregnant.

I wept tears of joy the whole way home from the clinic, and as I rubbed my belly, it felt as though my life was only beginning.  I made a promise to my child that morning: I would do everything in my power to be the best mother I could be, and not a day would pass when my child didn’t know and feel how loved he or she was by me.

My life changed the day my son was born.  He has taught me more in the span of four years than I will probably be capable of teaching him in his lifetime.  His imagination astounds me, and his affectionate nature has thawed parts of me that I thought were no longer frozen.  Those eyes of his speak a language all their own, even when they’re closed.  As I anticipated I would be as a mother, I am at all times raw, but I’m a better human being for it.

This is not to say I haven’t missed my sleep, a chance to pee in private, or leaving my home without half of it in my bag in the way of toys, snacks, wipes and other baby and child accoutrement, but these things are overshadowed by the overpowering exhilaration, the pure elation I derive from being a mother.

When my son Enlai was about 18 months old, I knew I wanted a second child.  I was brimming with love, and I wanted to share this love with another child.  My ex-husband already compromised by having one child, and he was absolutely resolute in his decision to not have another.  He said he realised his limitations – emotional and financial – and he would never agree to have an additional offspring.  I respected his honesty.  But if I compromised by agreeing to not have another child, I would be lying to myself, depriving myself of something so extraordinarily wonderful, and depriving my son of a lifelong friend, a sibling to share life experiences with as only a sibling can.

In lying to myself, I felt pieces of myself chipping away, my soul was fragmented.  I’ve never been one to not pursue my dreams, despite the most difficult adversities and self-placed obstacles.  I started to imagine myself in my later years, resenting not a decision that I had a choice to make and didn’t, but more importantly, resenting myself.  How could I live with myself if I resented myself?  How could I be a good mother and teach my son about being true to himself and following his heart if I wasn’t?  ‘Tis true that words are my mistress, but a wise man once told me that actions speak louder.  I had heard the saying a million times before and understood the meaning, but not until this wise man showed me did I truly understand the meaning.  I try to be an action mother, not a word mother, reminding myself that the Nike slogan wasn’t “Just Say It”.

When my ex-husband and I decided to divorce, I thought my chance of having another child dissolved along with the marriage.  I was an anemic version of myself after our union collapsed, and my childbearing years were nearly over.  Everything seemed blurry.  But, as I cooked my son’s meals, I took off my gauzy goggles and prepared my own optimism hors d’oeuvre.  And one day, as we sat at the table eating and laughing together, I realised I was still able to have another child.  I would be a single parent, and it would undoubtedly be a labyrinthine journey, but I was capable.

I am over the moon to share with you that I am now pregnant with my second child, conceived by a donor.  This pregnancy has not been without physical and emotional snags.  I have been hurt from judgments from both family and friends.  It is possible that I have mistaken worry for judgments, but anyone who knows me and understands my heart is aware of how long I’ve yearned for another child.  After I found out last week of a possible complication with my baby, I could only hold my Enlai’s hand and rub my belly, reminding myself how fortunate I am to be a mother, something I would never, ever take for granted.

My little Enlai has been to my sonograms, waving to his sibling, who he said was waving to him on the monitor.  He says he can’t wait to teach the baby about Scooby Doo and Batman, to share with the baby his special “blankies” and toys, to kiss the baby’s cheeks.  The other day, Enlai had his arm over my belly, and the baby kicked right where his hand was.  Enlai said, “That’s the baby’s way of talking to me.”  An action.  No words.

I am the mother of all gifts, of one child and another on the way.  Of Enlai’s instinct to be kind, to laugh until he can’t breathe.  Of his little voice, his stories, and even the times when he’s ill and only wants to lie next to me the entire day.  These are all incredible gifts.  With the sweet pea in my belly, I will be the mother of its sweet scent, its softness, of sleepless nights and engorged breasts.  I am the mother of the most important gift: life.

Category: Baby and Toddler Accoutrement, General, This Parenting Stuff


8 Responses

  1. Ana says:

    You are amazing! And will continue to be wonderful mother of two or even more, if you so decide. As a single mom of 2, I won’t lie it was extremely difficult at times. However there is no greater joy than watching your children’s relationship develop from being older brother to younger sibling, to an indelible bond between two. Not to mention how much fun it is! You’ll be drinking lots of coffee, that’s for sure.

    Foodie, I can honestly say, I am a better person because you are in my life. Thank you for your wonderful pieces.

    I love you

  2. Mercedes says:

    Lisha….you are such a beautiful writer & I enjoy reading every word you write. This article was beyond special & I am so happy for you. You are amazing and I admire the choices you have made. I send my love and look forward to more posts. xo

  3. Julia says:

    Lisha, your blog always touches at my heartstrings, but this one in particular as I know what you’ve gone through to get here. And what a beautiful journey. Thank you for your openness and honesty in writing this. I can see how perfect a decision this was for you and how lovely a little family you three will make. As a single mom of two myself, I would never say it’s an easy thing to do. But I can honestly say that I find it much easier than when I was unhappily married and was lying to myself pretending all was better than it was. This is completely the right decision for you just as much as deciding to do it on my own was for me. I can’t say it hasn’t been difficult or scary at times, but when you have hope and love and a belief in the miracle of small things, then all is possible. You are one of the most wonderful mothers (and people) I’ve met. Your little ones are lucky to have you. XO

  4. Clara says:

    Congrats Lisha. Thank you for sharing yourself through your blogs, I enjoy reading them. I am so happy for you. Being a mother is a blessing and pure joy!

  5. […] my heartstrings each time I read it. Have a look for yourself at today’s very touching post: http://www.oomphalos.co.uk/2012/03/the-mother-of-all-gifts-literally/ Tweet If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS […]

  6. Tina says:

    Absolutely amazing, you brought tears to my eyes. You are and will be the most loving mother I know. You are and will be an inspiration to many mothers. xx

  7. Storme says:

    Lisha, you are an inspiration.
    At 37 and having dedicated my life to looking after other people’s children and volunteering my time to care for orphans in Southern Africa with HIV from the age of 15, I am still single & having longed for a child since the age of nine, counting down on my fingers how long it would be till I turned twenty one (which I felt was a respectable age to have a baby!), your story only inspires me to never give up hope.
    With your love, dedication, wisdom and brilliance you little close knit family will embrace life and be a very happy one.
    Congratulations, I wish you, Enlai & ‘bump’ beyond horizons of happiness.

  8. […] On this Mother’s Day, I also want to salute another mother with a blog that has a way of tucking at my heartstrings each time I read it. Have a look for yourself at today’s very touching post: http://www.oomphalos.co.uk/2012/03/the-mother-of-all-gifts-literally/ […]

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