[Trigger warning: Fertility challenges, pregnancy loss and premature baby discussed in this post.]
Mother’s Day is complicated. Whether or not you’re a mother, have a challenging relationship with yours, want to be a mom, or no longer have a mother.
When I was in my early thirties, the ONLY thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to be a mother.
I was living in Northampton, Massachusetts when I met Melissa, who became my girlfriend, then spouse and co-parent.
The journey to having children was not an easy one. I was 35 when we began. We started by trying to co-parent with a friend. After a year of discussions, a hammered out legal agreement and a few months of trying IUI (intrauterine insemination) at home, our friend dropped out of the process. I felt sad and upset, and also relieved.
We went to the California Cryo Bank website and picked a donor. His sperm may have been freshly frozen, but it turns out, I had some old eggs.
The reproductive endocrinologist we saw gave us grave news about my chances of getting pregnant. He sent me to the class where you learned how to inject yourself with hormones. I needed the highest dose. I practiced on an orange and quickly got good at pinching my belly fat and giving myself shots.
It was surreal, mostly because it became normal so quickly.
This was in the fall of 2002 and I was working at the American Cancer Society at the time. Thankfully, my job had good benefits and one round of IVF was covered.
During this time, I did everything I could think of to up my chances of getting pregnant.
I went to a Reiki practitioner and learned how to do Reiki on myself.
I went to prenatal yoga twice a week.
I prayed constantly and asked EVERYONE I knew if they prayed. And if so, would they pray for me to get pregnant.
Fast forward to February of 2003, and we had four viable embryos. I remember the moon was full and bright as we arrived in the cold early morning at the doctors office. It was February 20th, my mother’s birthday, which I took as a good sign.
I am delighted to say that the transfer took and I became pregnant.
My pregnancy was filled with more challenges and concluded with a welcoming my son Elias prematurely. For some unknown reason, he had intrauterine growth retardation and arrived a month early at 2 lbs. 10 oz. He spent the first month of his life in the NICU.
He came home in early November 2003 and while little, was fine and has grown into a smart, kind and quirky teenager.
Becoming a mom was (is!) hard for me. No one teaches you how to be a mother. You’re expected to be an expert on day one, but it takes a lifetime of fucking up, plus a willingness to learn and course correct.
There’s so much pressure about motherhood and to be a “good mother.” I often never felt good enough.
Does any of this resonate?
Some women I work with stay in (big) law so they can enjoy paid maternity leave or fertility treatment benefits. Others question if they want kids.
Some get pregnant and others experience miscarriages and loss. In WILL, we don’t ignore or step over this, including the grief.
We are so much more than our reproductive status.
I honor wherever you are in relation to Mother’s Day.
I deeply appreciate that I was able to becoming a parent. I am sure my feelings about the day would be even more complicated if I hadn’t.
I also honor my ancestors, especially my mother, grandmothers and the women who helped raise me. Most are no longer here on earth, but I’ll invite them all to a celestial brunch where we are the only party in the restaurant!
Here’s to all the women who’ve come before us, and to us, raising ourselves,