Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother’s Day [to me]



A few weeks ago, smack in the middle of the semester, I found myself in the Emergency Room for the first time since I was three years old (that time I lied to my mother about “swallowing a needle”—yeah, that didn’t end well). I was about halfway through the first trimester of my pregnancy when all of a sudden one evening I had a massive discharge. Brooks and I rushed to the ER. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions but I was also terrified of what might have happened to our baby. I remember sitting in the waiting room while Brooks was on the phone with his parents and thinking, “I just want my mom.” I think every daughter (and child) can relate. In the most terrifying, painful moments of our lives, we just want our mothers. I know that has been true for me. Even as a married woman and a now-expectant mother, there are so many times when I just want my mother and so many more times that I am thankful for her presence in my life. 


My mother is the strongest person I know. She has survived so much, and more than that, she has thrived under the most trying circumstances. I like to think of my mother as a healer. She is not the kind of person who necessarily makes you feel nice or good about yourself all the time. However, she is the kind of person who is not satisfied with treating symptoms while the underlying issue goes unaddressed. Whether it’s physical or emotional pain, she fights until she gets to the root of the problem. In the past, this has meant spending hours researching genetic disorders at the university library and going through doctor after doctor until she got the right diagnosis for her son. It has meant overturning her lifestyle, her diet, and some of her ideals in order to find healing for herself. She is not afraid to put her finger on the throbbing source of pain, whether that’s her own pain, my pain, or the pain of social injustice. She’s not satisfied with Band-Aids and cheap patchwork. She’s not satisfied with putting on a smile and a stiff upper lip when inside she’s suffering. If she has to uproot her entire life, execute complete demolition, and start building from the ground up again, so be it. She will. 

She doesn’t need the validation of the world or anyone else to go forward confidently in her convictions and make the decisions that are right and good for her.

My mother is one of my best friends, a fierce woman I aspire to. She is not a perfect woman. She has never pretended to be. Her flaws often speak for themselves and she’s not afraid to own them. She knows they don’t define her. She knows WHO defines her and she goes forward confidently in that assurance.

She has taught me so much about being independent, being brave, and being confident in my own skin. She never forced me or my siblings into a box. She always trusted (and she still does) that we would figure things out on our own. Sometimes this meant tough love and letting me make my own mistakes, trusting that I would learn from them. 

Back in March, my husband and I visited my brother’s cemetery on the anniversary of his birthday. It’s an annual ritual for us. At first, I worried that visiting my brother’s cemetery was like holding onto the past. However, lately I have learned that stopping by his grave every year helps me see how little the past has a hold on me. It's a beautiful contrast to come back to his grave years later, and realize how far I have come from the broken young woman who was first sitting her years ago. 

This year Brooks and I visited the cemetery with the new and happy knowledge of the life of our own baby. My brother’s grave looked different in light of recent events. I saw it through the eyes of a mother losing a baby, parents losing their son. My stomach sank like a brick and I told Brooks, “I can’t imagine losing my baby.” He reiterated my feelings, "I know. It terrifies me." Yet I know so many mothers who have and I don't know how but they continue on like warriors. For the first time I felt the enormous weight of fear and uncertainty that comes with having a child. I can’t imagine the amount of faith and courage it took for my parents to raise all of us and continue life after losing their baby. I can’t imagine the strength it takes for any mama who has lost a baby, whether through a miscarriage or otherwise. And I’m so proud and in awe of the mothers I know who have gone through this loss and come out the other side as conquerors. I hope I can be as brave as you.

We daughters take so much strength and love and encouragement from our mothers. I was so blessed that day in the ER to have the presence of my mother and mother-in-law. As always, I was amazed by the calm and confidence my mother carried herself. This was the same ER she and my father entered only to be told their son had “expired at the scene”. My dear mother has probably lost count of the times she has gone to the ER, what between all of the stitches and staples her children brought on themselves, and then the many scares of a son with a precarious genetic disorder and chronic autoimmune illness. How many times has she had to wonder, “Will my child survive this time?”

That day in the ER turned out to be the first day Brooks and I heard our baby’s heartbeat. Everything was fine. The discharge that scared us turned out to be implantation bleeding and quickly ceased. We followed through on some bloodwork to make sure all my hormone levels and everything looked good. I am well into my second trimester now, under the care of a fantastic physician, and so far baby is still thriving. I look forward to the day when I can feel him kick inside of me and the day we eventually get to meet him (or her). From the ultrasounds, we can tell he certainly loves to dance already!

Baby Carlson (we have affectionately nicknamed him our little Korok—all you legend of Zelda fans will get it!) is due to arrive early November later this year. We can’t wait to meet our baby! 

Happy mother’s day to my mother and my mother-in-law and all of the incredible mothers and mothers-to-be who I have the privilege to know and love. You all are my heroes. Keep fighting the good fight! 

1 comment :

  1. Congratulations on the baby!

    I've not had anything as hard in my life as you, but as a fearful person, I well understand just wanting Mom near.

    ReplyDelete

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