Motherhood did not come easily for me - in all respects.
I struggled with infertility for three years. Because I was totally comfortable with adoption, I didn't delve too deeply into why. I had some very preliminary testing that showed it would be difficult (but not impossible) to conceive.
I accepted this and we began to look into adoption, but were discouraged by agencies telling us it might be a 7 year wait. Already dangerously close to 30, I didn't think it wise to wait.
So we accepted our situation. We went to vacation in Ireland instead for our 3rd trip there. Apparently, I conceived there.
When we returned home, we learned I was pregnant. Ah, bliss. Then I began to bleed. I was told to get off my feet, but the demands of the legal practice made that pretty impossible. We lost that baby and were plunged into sadness.
I blamed myself for putting my career first. It was an error I would not repeat.
Then two weeks later, we were presented with an opportunity to adopt - without the 7 year wait predicted by adoption agencies. It was through the graciousness of my boss at the time (RIP, Attorney Leonard Sacks) who wanted me to see my dreams fulfilled. In one month, he had THREE women come to see him who wanted to make a plan to place their children for adoption.
Lenny said, "You get the first baby to come." Indeed we did - a beautiful baby girl. A baby boy was born a week later, who I had the privilege of placing with a client family. The third woman changed her mind.
Two weeks after a miscarriage, I became the mother of a beautiful 3-day-old girl. Overnight, without the benefit of 9 months to prepare, I became an instant mom, plunged cluelessly into parenting.
She was a delight! Although I confess to a few midnight calls to a very understanding pediatrician who helped us through lactose intolerance. Our first daughter thrived and delighted us.
I cut my work hours back dramatically because I wanted to spend time with her. While this is a wonderful option for mothers, it does not come without a cost. Instead of a dedicated, consumed attorney, I became I part time attorney - thereby closing doors to other opportunities.
As happens in about 8% of moms who adopt, I got pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl 17 months later. I had two kids in diapers and bottles, still trying to maintain some semblance of a law practice. With wonderful childcare, it was doable, but then something happened that made it undoable.
My husband got a job 80 miles away. It was an opportunity of a lifetime for him. We packed up the babies, I packed up my law briefcase, and we moved.
I NEVER planned on full-time motherhood. When, and if, I ever had kids, I assumed I would always have my career.
Sometimes the events of life cause us to choose to change and modify our plans. Yes, it was my CHOICE to fully embrace motherhood. But I did so at a cost.
As I settled into full-time motherhood and stopped fighting it, I found it suited me. I loved the fun, creative aspects of it. I handled the early challenges fairly well. I enjoyed it so much that we ultimately adopted 2 more children for a full total of four.
The fourth and final Field is now 19 and I'm in a season of processing all that has happened during this time.
It has been joy and bliss, sorrow and heartache.
During a time when my colleagues were trying major lawsuits and ascending to judgeships, I was home homeschooling four kids.
My husband achieved his career goals for the season and semi-retired a year ago. His investment in career yielded him a nice pension and substantial savings, due to his diligence in managing and saving money.
Yes, he had the added stress of providing for four kids. But he also had someone to cook, clean and do most of the work with the kids and running a household. While he paid a price, that price did not preclude him from pursuing his other goals.
As for me, the price was higher. Trying to re-enter the workplace after a lengthy mommy sabbatical is brutal. Also, mothering changed me so much that I'm no longer certain that I want the negativity and avarice associated with practicing law.
For a young mom facing the decisions of career and motherhood, it is wise to remember that whatever you choose, there is a price. Some women manage it splendidly. Others, when they are honest, confess to the crushing stress and divided loyalty.
The reality for moms is that when giving all to your career, your kids will suffer. When giving all to your kids, your career will suffer. There is a high price either way.
For me, I've relied on two thoughts:
1. I asked myself the question, "What is the work that only I can do?" I concluded that while there are many fine, capable lawyers around, only I could be the mother to the children I had the privilege to parent.
2. When I am on my deathbed, I won't remember the cases or clients I served. I will remember the love and joy of raising children, as will I shed a few tears over the challenges and pain.
As for me, I know that I am a kinder, gentler person because of my children. I know that I have had a life of depth and richness in real life.
On balance, the price I paid was worth the cost.
How will you choose?
More from parenting