In case you missed it, my husband and I had a baby, a beautiful baby girl named Kateri, in May of this year. (Yes, we named her after St. Kateri Tekakwitha, my favorite (now) saint since I was a little girl.) She is a beautiful and super easy baby. Seriously, we have been extremely blessed with how great she is.
Lots of times when I was pregnant I liked to dream about who the little person was growing inside me. What he or she would be when they grew up, what their favorite food was going to be, what he or she would look like. We chose not to find out her gender ahead of time (which is another subject entirely) so we had lots of time and options to guess about what he or she would be like.
As she was my first baby, I had never experienced the joy and anticipation that comes with being pregnant. It was more fun than anything I could have imagined. Reading updates on how big the baby was week by week, trying to imagine little fingers and toes growing inside my belly – all of it. Kicks and hiccups in utero were surreal – sometimes it felt otherworldly to realize there was a person capable of movement and everyday things like hiccups inside me.
But when she was born it all became clear. Even though I had a devilish hell of a labor and birth experience (and I mean that in the way that women wouldn’t suffer pains with childbirth if it weren’t for the Fall), seeing her face made something instantly click inside me. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t experienced it yourself. When I saw her face, held her close, looked into her beautiful blue eyes, and also cried my eyes out (I’m a cry-er, what can I say), it was like Heaven and Earth aligned around this one single moment in my life.
It was so clear in that instant that she – this perfect little person, screaming healthily, with 10 fingers and 10 toes and a newborn scrunched face – was the exact full person who was inside me the whole time. Sometimes while I was still pregnant it was hard to believe there was actually a person in there – a person capable of walking, or singing, or riding a bike. But when she arrived it became an unequivocal fact. It was suddenly so real and so true that she was the one in there the whole time. Of course she was, I said to myself. It all made perfect sense.
While we spent hours admiring her in the weeks after her birth, my husband and I had this discussion many a time. After living through the miracle that is the ability to make a human being, we have a hard time now understanding who can believe that she wasn’t a person the whole time. We had the same conversations when I was still pregnant, but seeing her in the flesh solidified it beyond belief. We both have so much love for her, and are still so in awe that we are graced with the ability to bring this child of God up in the world. How could we ever not believe it was her the whole time? After growing Kateri inside me, how can I ever think she wasn’t who she is, complete and whole from the very beginning?
Being a mother also makes me see lots of things in a completely new way. I have so much more admiration now for single mothers and fathers, whatever their circumstance. Raising a baby is hard. I couldn’t do it without David’s help. I also understand to a greater degree the suffering of couples who struggle with infertility. The blessing of a baby is more than I could have imagined – I can’t comprehend wanting and waiting for such a gift for so long and being saddened and disappointed month after month, or year after year. These thoughts are in my prayers much more than they ever were before I was a mom. Miscarriage, complications at birth, all of those life issues are much more prevalent on my heart than ever.
I am also amazed at how motherhood gives me a much more profound insight into our Father’s love for us. I see how amazing David is with our beautiful baby, and my heart bursts with love when she coos or smiles at me. I cry or cringe with pain when she suffers. And I think, how can there be a love bigger than this? How can anything compare? And then I realize that I love with a human frailty, that I have flaws, and will make mistakes, as all human mothers and fathers do. But our Father loves us with an abiding love that is beyond human comprehension – much deeper and more meaningful and infinitely more powerful than the love I feel for my daughter. He has that love for all of us – for me, my daughter, my neighbor, my enemy. And I am amazed. I can try to comprehend it, but I never will. But now, with just the little more wisdom that motherhood has gifted me with, I am amazed at His love for us.
I guess what I’m trying to say, as disjointed as this post has been, is this: motherhood has changed me in so many ways, and I’m only 3 months in. Life is a much more precious gift than I ever comprehended before. And I am so blessed and grateful to have been given this opportunity to be a mother. Prayers to you and yours.