What It Feels Like to Become a Mother Before Becoming a Mom

4 years ago

Nine years ago today, I pushed my daughter into this world with one last mighty push. Nine years ago today, I became a mother. Nine years ago today, a brand new resident doctor stitched me up while my daughter's mom held her for the first time, my arms empty. The pain of the inexperienced stitching didn't compare to the burning hot pain in my heart as I lived through that first experience of almost but not quite, the life-long journey of birth motherhood.


I look back on the day that my daughter -- my firstborn, my only girl -- was born with awe, both in amazement of how amazing she was and we all were but with an incredulous, gut-sinking feeling. How did it all come to be? And why? And, more over, how did I survive? I don't ask that last one lightly: How on Earth did I survive?

Maybe I survived because becoming a mother and simultaneously handing a child over to the woman who would become her mom didn't fully hit me until later. Even when we visited for the first time months later and I responded to her cries, it didn't fully hit me. The realization of loss of everything I could have had, could have shared, could have been wouldn't come until much later, when my first son rocked my world.

I've been asked over the years, in kind and not so kind ways, how I could have done it, the reasons that lead to that life-altering choice and variations on theme. Some are laced with judgment; How could you? Some are compassionate; But why? You're such a great mom. Most are just curious. I answer, I go on.

One question most people don't ask though is how it feels. How does it feel to be a birth mother? How does it feel to hand your child over to someone else? How does it feel on that first birthday, that first Christmas, that first anything without your child? How does it feel to be a participant in an open adoption, to see her grow up, but to be an outsider all the same? How does it feel?

It feels indescribable -- as in, there are no words. My robust vocabulary does not include the wording to make someone understand what it feels like to place a child for adoption unless that person has done so; and even then, the situations at hand and resulting feelings differ. For me, becoming a mother before I became a mom felt like being told the meaning to life, feeling that understanding and awe, but upon waking up the first morning after having learned the knowledge, I couldn't remember what I had been told. I had it all... and then I didn't. I had a baby... and then I didn't.

I have been present, always available. I have watched her grow, told her I loved her, answered questions. I have forged relationships, driven countless miles. I am lucky to have what I have. I am blessed to be any part of her life as she is so very amazing. But always, always, on the periphery of my luck and my blessing is that nagging feeling that I knew something so very important but I do not anymore. That I held something so fantastic in my arms and now... I do not.


Family/Moms & Events Section Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land.

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