Still Can’t Believe I’m Somebody’s Mama: A Reflection, One Year Later

On the afternoon of September 17, 2020, I was in my obstetrician’s office for my 39 week appointment. My blood pressure was up. Again. It had been slowly creeping up for the previous three weeks.

“We want to prevent any problems for you and the baby, so I’d like to induce,” my doctor said.

“Ok. When would you like to induce?”

Her eyes got wide. Of course she was wearing I mask, so I couldn’t get the full facial expression. “NOW!”

This was not how I wanted to give birth. Inducement? Please! I was eagerly waiting for my water to break so I could call my husband and say, “It is time!” in my Rafiki from The Lion King voice.

This wasn’t how I imagined my birth story going, but it was on par with the rest of my pandemic pregnancy. When we went into lockdown in March of 2020, I was three months pregnant. I had just started telling people I was pregnant and I wasn’t yet showing.

The weekend before the lockdown I went into the Motherhood Maternity store to get some maternity work clothes. The store was going out of business and I was able to get several items for a good price; however, the need for me to wear those items at work became obsolete as my school district moved to remote learning for the remainder of the school year.

My son and I. He’s 5 months old in this picture.

I missed out on telling people to not touch my belly, something I was looking forward to. I missed out on having a traditional baby shower and settled for a baby shower drive thru instead. I missed out on having the waiting room full of our family waiting for my son to come into the world. There was so much I missed out on, but in a way being able to work from home during the majority of my pregnancy was a blessing. I was able to teach from home and rest, and most importantly snack whenever I wanted.

As soon as I left the doctor’s office, I still called my husband and said “It is time” in the Rafiki voice, and told him about the inducement. We went to the hospital, I received the inducement medicine, and went into labor in the early hours of Friday morning, September 18.

A little over 12 hours later, I gave birth to my healthy baby boy. Besides low iron levels and the high blood pressure at the end, I had a healthy pregnancy, though my age put me and my son in an at-risk status.

Now, 12 months later, I have a son who has remained healthy and is active (started crawling at 6 months and walking at 8 months), alert, talkative, and has a good appetite.

I didn’t think I would enjoy motherhood. I thought it would be dreadful and difficult. I’ve found that it is indeed difficult, but it brings me so much joy to see my baby’s face light up when he sees me or his father, to hear him reply after we say something to him, to watch him pick up a book without being prompted and open it and start “reading,” to notice how his legs are longer as he gets taller, to see him learning to do things he couldn’t do before.

I’ve always saw motherhood as a club. A club I didn’t belong to for over three decades. But now that I am in that club, I can say that most mothers are out here doing the best they can for their children and themselves. My best isn’t going to look like another mother’s best. I’m sorry for judging any mother at any point in the past. I’m thankful for the mothers who have stood beside me during this first year of my motherhood journey. I’m thankful for the child free women who have also been sources of support and comfort.

Here are some thoughts I have about this motherhood journey this far, in no particular order:

  • Do not take advice that doesn’t seem compatible or aligned with recent research or common sense.
  • Put my phone down more often and spend more time watching my boy and reading to him.
  • Breastfeeding has been rewarding, but difficult and time consuming. My time breastfeeding will not last forever.
  • Do not guilt myself about being a working mother.
  • Becoming a mother without my own mother being here has been hard.
  • Give tribute to the mothers who have stood and are standing in the gap.
  • Give thanks for my husband, who bathes our son at night, picks him up and drops him off at childcare, and puts him to sleep at night.
  • Give thanks to my tribe, my village, which has been so supportive despite the isolation of COVID. The prayers, cash offerings, the baby gifts, the food, the words of support in the form of phone calls, texts, other messages, and video calls have sustained me, has sustained us.

Time marches on to the toddler years, which are here already.

But for now, it is time to celebrate my baby’s first solar return. Time for us to celebrate his first year, time for us to look forward to many more years. Years that hopefully will be COVID free for us to have the biggest family gathering possible.

My mother would often say, “Enjoy them while they’re little because they grow up fast.” And seeing that in real time speeds it up even more somehow. So we will do just that: Enjoy him.

Happy Birthday, Loman!

Published by jenniferbartellpoet

Jennifer writes and teaches in South Carolina.

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