As I celebrate my very first Mother’s Day holding my 5 day old son, I can’t help but feel a deep sense of gratitude for all of the women who reached out to me over the last 9 months to share with me their experiences of motherhood, and well wishes to my own. Each of them candidly shared the messy details that accompany pregnancy, delivery, and those first weeks postpartum. I received valuable tips and advice (which I gladly accepted and appreciate), as well as anecdotes on their favorite aspects of the entire experience.
Some of these women are old friends, some were strangers on the street, or merely acquaintances; some are recent mothers themselves, whereas others are now grandmothers; some are women who never saw their child to delivery, having lost their babies through multiple miscarriages; some had major complications through pregnancy and delivery, others fared just fine. Many I discovered on my own through the internet, and others I have not much more than a virtual relationship with— distant friends or random online followers who initiated a friendship through this shared motherhood experience.
But what all have in common is the belief that motherhood is worth talking about, no matter how gruesome the details— that no woman should enter this whole-body, mind and spirit change alone and without ample knowledge passed on from others who were there before. Not meaning to sound cliche, but I recognize and honor that sisterhood among mothers. It is a universal sisterhood, bringing together women of all backgrounds to participate in the joyous miracle that is childbirth!
And though I’ve always been pro-choice, after having lived through childbirth, I believe more strongly than ever that no woman should ever feel pressured to have a pregnancy she doesn’t want, let alone forced by the oppressive men of our government to carry a pregnancy that was conceived through rape and incest. Babies are a beautiful thing, and getting them into the world should only be through love— not through violence, and not through fear.
Our bodies are put under such severe stress throughout these nine months, our souls are so deeply vulnerable to hormonal fluctuations and emotional tidal waves, and society— for all the wonderful people out there offering their well wishes— there are just as many others treating women in poverty with equal amounts of judgment, negativity, and ostracization. No one should force or pressure a woman to carry a child she doesn’t want, for whatever reason she has; its no one’s decision but her’s.
And I will extend that notion to include all the women out there who are not in poverty, necessarily, but whose peers, family members, and society leaders are pressuring them to want children. Too many moms want to push the motherhood-sisterhood onto women who don’t have the desire, aren’t ready, or aren’t in a position to start a family. Let this be the personal decision of the individual— society tends to only spread the positives of pregnancy and childbirth, misleading women around the world that this beautiful miracle is only that, and not inclusive of body stress, pain, illness, fear, and so many other woes. Again, women should be equipped with full knowledge of what pregnancy entails, and not just following someone else’s fairytale of what “true womanhood” may be. I think society overall is changing, and finally allowing space for other women’s narratives to take place, but the traditional mindset of women being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen still lives strong and weaves the fate of many around the world.
Personally, I wanted a child, and have for a long time. But I told myself in my early 20s: I only want a love-child. I didn’t want a child conceived without true love and passion; I didn’t want a child I couldn’t give all of myself to. I feel incredibly fortunate today that I have a husband— my partner— who loves me deeply and wants me to have all the things I dream of that makes me feel whole, including the life-changing (and relationship-changing) experience of motherhood. In that sense, Silas, my son, really is my dream-come-true! Not only is he totally healthy, and beautiful, but he is emblematic of so many other dreams-come-true in my life.
Therefore, enduring my inflamed gallbladder since 5-months pregnant, the insomnia, the gas, the vomiting and nausea, the midnight hunger, the weight gain, the breast pain, the excruciating contractions that lasted 4 nights and 3 days, the stretching of my vagina and pushing, tearing, and bleeding that brought him into this world, followed by more of the same plus constant breast feeding, crying (both he and I), learning how to walk again, incontinence, and lots and lots of sitting still in one place while he sleeps in my arms in total bliss... its all worth it! And I can love him all the more for everything he’s put me through, because he represents so much more to me than being just a baby... he is the totality of all my accomplishments leading me to where I am today, with the ability to endure these things and still find so much joy in every one of his breaths!
So, to all of those moms who reached out to me— I see you! And I thank you for helping me welcome this little boy into the world equipped with knowledge and the confidence that I can (and would) get through the tough stuff and have a successful delivery. Thank you for all of your motherhood experiences! I dedicate my first Mother’s Day to you, and all acting maternal figures! You deserve more than just a day, as you have brought more than just one life into the world.
With love, Namaste!