It’s all quiet in this cheery green nursery. I keep rocking, even though the bottle has slid from his mouth and his breathing has deepened.
It was after the doctors shook their heads no and we spent more money than we had in our account trying to figure out what was going on with my health, only to accidentally discover that we would probably-most-likely-barring-a-miracle ever have a baby.
It was after I missed my cycle and felt so strangely weird. After I talked to a midwife and had her tell me that my symptoms were indicating possible pregnancy, but only time would tell because it was simply too early. After I drove in circles on my way home one night, telling God that I just had this intuitive hunch that I was carrying a life in my womb and was petrified to even hope.
“It was May 4th. I woke up thinking about how that Mother’s Day I would tell everyone that I was pregnant, almost eight weeks along. Later that day, that fateful Tuesday, my baby left my body in an ugly rush of blood. I remember the confusion I felt, sitting in the bathroom at work. My hands shook, my head ached, and I remember how I wished that I could wish it all to stop. But I couldn’t and I remember how I felt as though I was bleeding out and losing not my baby, but my heart. And that Mother’s Day I thought I’d be announcing good news, I sat stone cold and silent.”
I know what it is like to walk into church on Mother’s Day and be a mother –
and not be recognized as one.
It is a pain that cuts wide as it cuts deep.
Now, here I sit, the Monday before Mother’s Day, holding a baby. He nestles his head into my chest and I stare at his perfectly round little mouth and his long eyelashes and his round baby cheeks.
I get up and walk to the crib, but when I go to lay him down I stop and hold him tighter.
He sighs and I cry.
This Mother’s Day, I will carry my round and roly baby into church with me and he will sit on my lap and we’ll spill Cheerios on the floor and he will want to get down and crawl up the chairs in front of us, and I will probably realize that I have baby food on my collar or snot smeared on my arm, or something like that.
I will celebrate motherhood holding my baby, for the first time on Mother’s Day, and maybe the last.
So when I go to lay him down for his nap, I stop and hold him tighter and I cry, because our days are numbered and I don’t want to miss one millisecond of a moment with my son.
I’ve gotten to rock him late at night while his first teeth cut through, and I squealed with excitement the first time he rolled over, and laughed with joy the first time he smiled. I have coached him through the rigors of the first days of crawling and kissed his head hundreds of times from falling over as he learns to stand. My eyes have watered salt hearing him say his first words – Ma,ma…then Buh-buh (bottle)…then, his favorite – Da, da.
I hold him tight and cry because I wonder if I’ll get to see the first crude letters he makes in first grade, or get to watch Da, da teach him to play basketball. Will I be there when he graduates? Will I be there when he marries? Will he call me when he becomes a dad? Will he know me?
Once upon a time, I asked God why he would be so cruel not to bless me with a baby. I paced, yelled, fought, reasoned, begged. I wrestled with the cruel reality that some people will be given life who don’t want it, while others would give anything to gain thirty pounds and labor for twenty hours to have a baby.
I lay him down, the pudgy twenty-five-pound, almost nine-month old, and I cover him with his fuzzy blanket.
And I wonder at God.
Chances are slim that I would be Leo’s mom, if these scars were not my journey.
I stroke his baby-soft cheek.
The wounds of my heart have been a birthright to the deepest joy of my life.
The indescribable joy of not just being a mom.
Of being Leo’s mom.
There may be a day when I will not see my son. And, there may be a day when my son will not know me.
And this pain of empty arms on Mother’s Day, will be far greater than it ever was – but I will breathe and I will live and I will hope, knowing this truth, that God redeems and resurrects and turns great injustice into impossible good.