I’m writing this a little early because this weekend is busy- (aside from Mother’s Day, it is also my five year anniversary so I’d like to focus on celebrating that and savoring time with my husband!) but also because my kids are somehow napping at the same time and I felt motivated to write so I thought let’s seize the day!
My “first” Mother’s Day I was very pregnant and standing up as confirmation sponsor for my brother. I was carrying my son inside me and that same brother would soon become my son’s godfather in a very lovely cycle of life type way.
My second Mother’s Day– or first if you are counting from the time I had a baby outside of me- was a lovely blur of a ton of family and just coming out of a long year of new mom times. I wore a sunshine yellow dress and dreaded thinking about my son turning one year old soon thereafter.
Last year for Mother’s Day, I had a very special weekend with my mom and sister. We knew my grandma was sick but she was still doing pretty well at that point. She rapidly deteriorated by the end of that month. While we were grappling with that life ending, I was also praying and praying that a new life was beginning as we hoped for our second child. One of the last long conversations I had with my grandmother, before she got really sick, was about miracles. She told me about all the things in her life that looking back were miraculous. She had such a spirit of gratitude even knowing that she was close to dying. I held on to her talk of miracles tightly throughout the next nine months
This mother’s day, I have both a son and a daughter. I was just talking with my mom this week about how my son has my eyes, but my daughter has my grandmother’s eyes. It gives me chills to think that, according to the research on the subject, my daughter’s heart would have started to beat inside me almost the same day as my grandmother passed away. Another lovely, yet painful cycle of life moment.
Many of my friends are celebrating Mother’s Day for the first time this year- whether as pregnant women or as moms adjusting to life with their tiny infants . I logged onto Facebook this morning to find a status from one of those friends about how it is hard to describe the way you feel when you see your little one’s heart beating away on an ultrasound. I was instantly transported to my own ultrasounds and that powerful feeling overwhelmed me all over again. The waves of gratitude during those first ultrasounds when we had no idea if we’d see that tiny flicker, the feelings of wonder at my 20 week ultrasounds when we could see how much that little heart had developed and the marvelous details that our technology could pick up. Whenever people talk about hearing or seeing their babies heartbeats the phrase that immediately jumps to mind is a line from one of my favorite Shakespeare plays: “Thy life is a miracle, speak again” (And more recently, since Hamilton came out, the lyric “the fact that you’re alive is a miracle, just stay alive, that would be enough…” follows fast on the Shakespearean quote’s heels… especially since it was while we were watching Hamilton last May that I felt a strong sense that I was pregnant as I heard Phillipa Soo sing those lines. I didn’t get a positive test until three days later but I just knew…)
I have made no secret about how hard my last pregnancy was. Between my illness and my anxiety I didn’t really feel pregnant most of those 9 months, I just felt like something was horribly wrong with me. I didn’t have the same constant thought about the child growing in me and prenatal bond like I did with my son- perhaps because between getting sick and chasing my toddler I had less time to muse on such things?
The only time I really felt sure I was pregnant and not just suffering from an everlasting flu was when I could see or hear that little heartbeat. And since waiting for doctors appointments was way too long for my anxiety and hormone addled brain to handle, I bought a doppler to use at home and it was the BEST. DECISION. I would listen daily and in those few minutes (I limited myself because I know that prolonged exposure to that hasn’t been studied) I felt the same wonder as I did the first time I heard that rapid little pitter patter. As I got closer to my due date and my son was sort of starting to understand what was going on, I’d get out the doppler and we would listen together. I’d tell him that was the baby he was hearing and he understood enough that when we’d go to my OB appointments and she would find the heartbeat, he would say “That’s BABY!” I like to think a little piece of him already knew that sound was a miracle.
I am overwhelmed with emotion this Mother’s Day. Perhaps because it is the first without my grandma and my own mother is not in the country at the moment. Perhaps it is because my heart feels like it has doubled in size with the arrival of this second child. Perhaps because I’m still filled with so many hormones and I’m still not sleeping much… But I think it’s just because I’ve started noticing more and more the miracles around me. I still listen to the heartbeats of my little ones when we are snuggling or giving big hugs. The sound still overwhelms me with awe. But having them out in the world means I also get to hear the sounds of their cries, their laughter, and the way my oldest says “Mommy” with the indescribable joy of seeing me after I’ve been away, or the singular, urgent need when he’s fallen down and wants a kiss. It’s not always easy in the day to day grind of motherhood, but in those moments all I can think is: Thy life is a miracle, speak again…