“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers ~ strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” ~Barbara Katz Rothman
I share this, first and foremost, as a rite of passage for my daughter, Kendra, turning 25 today, and for myself. It feels as if the energetic proverbial umbilical cord is becoming more like a golden ribbon….connected, yet extending farther out, flowing and flexible. Also, at 25, I married her father and it was a huge transition for what the next 25 years plus have become for me. I see this time in Kendra’s life no less than the beginning of another phase of growth, expansion and blossoming of who she is, with a world ahead of adventures and experiences.
Second, I am writing this to honor the love I hold in my heart for her and the immense gratitude for sharing this journey together. I have not only been an influence in her life, she has equally shaped who I am as well.
Lastly, I pray someone, somewhere in the world, will be able to understand and perhaps receive a glimpse of clarity for themselves, shift a long held perception and heal some aspect of their life to move forward with a lighter heart and one filled with gratitude for where they have been.
Let’s just begin with this part of my story & journey around 25 years plus ago…….I was walking down the hall at work, when one of my co-workers asked “what does it feel like to know you’re going to be a mother?” She might of well told me my water just broke right then and there. Fortunately, it was only my bubble that burst….my joy bubble of being pregnant. I was reveling in the experience of the pregnancy. I loved it, absolutely….and to my amazement!!! This elation was a bit of a shock coming from someone who typically ran 5-6 miles, swim a mile at a time, lifted weights, took aerobic classes, and was proud of her lean muscular physique and tight abs. I knew how to make my body work for me, push it to it’s limits, and as an exercise physiologist in cardiac rehab, working, living, breathing health & fitness was my life. Now, I had no control over my body….none, zilch, nada!
The first three months were a little rough with fatigue, but I literally had no morning sickness. I was running, cycling on a wind trainer, walking the dogs, doing warm ups and cool downs at 6:00 am with the Phase III rehab people, teaching classes, decorating the nursery with my former husband and laughing with joy as I heard the heart beat and saw my belly starting to protrude. We took videos to show how I looked like myself from the back, but as if I had a basketball tucked under my t-shirt from a side view. Once the hiccups came and I watched the metamorphosis of my abdomen, as she moved from one position to another, I simply couldn’t help but laugh out loud. It was as if my nerve system, my heart, and my soul came alive to a level I never felt before.
HOWEVER, in that moment it was if all the joy came to a halt. I felt I was not only face to face with my co-worker and unable to really answer her; I was brought face to face to all the responsibility of motherhood. Oh my gosh….really??? Not yet…I didn’t want to think about that yet…I just wanted to go back to the elation of pregnancy!
Well, you can’t go back. Pregnancy is an E-ticket ride (or rather P-ticket roller coaster ride) you can’t get off until it comes to completion in some way shape or form. Sometimes it’s happy. Sometimes it’s tragic. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes there are surprises. And, sometimes it’s full of unforeseen challenges that can take on a multitude of highs and lows, and all the in-betweens. I do believe when life comes forth it is a miracle, a blessing, and a sacred honor to be parents. A responsibility not to be taken lightly.
For me, pregnancy felt like every woman’s dream. HOWEVER, labor and delivery were the polar opposite. Not to belabor the experience (no pun intended), it just wasn’t the natural birth I had imagined after hearing about how my sister and sister-in-law had delivered. It wasn’t like my friend, who delivered twins in less than 5 hours (naturally), and I helped coach when her husband was on deployment. And, it wasn’t the sacred birth I later imagined could be possible in one’s home. Let’s just say 26 hours with contractions starting at 5 minutes apart, after 24 hours of false labor, morphine to help me sleep since I came into the hospital around midnight, meconium in the water once officially broken, pitocin, back labor, an epidural, internal fetal monitoring, and finally a spinal with a C-section….WOW! I think the only thing we didn’t experience were forceps.
Let’s just say I felt pretty beat up after the birth. Which by the way, I was the one falling asleep when they tried to get Kendra to nurse. She was beautiful, a full head of hair, blue eyes….although she looked a little beat up too, since she had been deep in the birth canal with me pushing. I never fully dilated to 10 cm, and when my temperature went up, let’s just say there was no discussion. The mood of the birthing room changed dramatically with the possibility of infection and we were whisked off to the operating room. I was just hoping Kendra’s father would be able to gather his video equipment fast enough to join us in time….they moved us that fast!!!
When I did wake up after the surgery, I was in shock to realize how much pain I was in to move from lying down to sitting up…..funny how much you use her abdominal muscles without realizing it. Once up, I thought I had this, but NO. I needed help just to walk to the bathroom. There was no joy at this point. I wanted to cry and I did..only on the inside. I could not believe how non-functional I was, besides feeling fatigued, and having the residual of heavy duty medication running through me, as well as the current ones. I was literally crying and falling apart more on the inside. I felt so defeated at what was to be one of the most glorious times of my life. Kendra’s father was beaming with pride and couldn’t wait for me to hold her. All I could think was “how am I to take care of her, when I can’t even take care of myself!” I never said it out loud. I just smiled and took her, although all I really wanted was for my mom to take care of me.
Although there has been up and downs over the last 25 years, it was when I was dropping her off at college that the epiphany came. Actually, it hit me right in the eyes and the heart, such that my perception shifted 180 degrees! I was leaving the college, crying like a faucet, feeling an emptiness of going home to only the cat, who I had raised with her for the last 14 years since the divorce. I felt all the energy drain: physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, etc. that seemed to be have poured out of me over the years as a single parent going to chiropractic school, taking her to school, ballet, gymnastics, moving across country, starting all over again with trying to open a practice, more school, gymnastics, track, after school events, learning to drive…..etc, etc, etc .
But something happened, totally out of the blue, and I just stopped crying and listened. It was if the Divine heard me and said “Oh, no…it was never that way at all! YOU did take care of Her, and You did take care of You ..and You did a good job…a Great Job!!!” And in that split second of what I will call “Divine Intervention” a miracle occurred. A shift in my perception healed all of it to a place of pure perfection. If what we went through with the labor and deliver was a prelude to the journey ahead and it made Kendra who she is today and me to be the ideal mother for her….I wouldn’t consider changing one thing. If she received the perfect balance of daily living with me, and exploring the world with her father, for her to live life in her most authentic self from this day forward, then all was perfection beyond our finite brains could even try to line up.
So in “the end” which really is the beginning, the birth wasn’t only about Kendra being born into this world. I was also birthed as a mom and through our journey together, she has taught me and helped me grow into the mother she needed me to be. You see, it was never solely about the pregnancy. It was always, and for eternity, about her coming into this world, and for me becoming the mother she needed me to be, so she could be the woman she is to become! Thank you, Kendra, for choosing me and for showing me “the way” for your becoming!!!
I Love You & Happy 25th Birthday!!! Always, mama xoxo
P.S. Thank You & Love to your father, all our family and friends, and all the other people who have come in and out of each of our lives as support and teachers. Sometimes we know, and sometimes we never know, ALL the why’s, who’s or how’s of the weaving and writing of each of our stories. xoxo
One thought on “Happy “Birth” Day…Mama!”
This is a beautiful story Dr. Cheryl. Thank you for sharing.
LikeLiked by 1 person