What motherhood means to me

I have been blessed throughout my entire life with a wide range of mothers coming in and out of my life, but for the most part they all stay. They come into my life when I need them the most, even if I don’t think I do. They help me through the hard things, and hold my hand when I need them. They adopt me and keep me in their lives, and are never surprised when I show up to their houses unannounced. They are the women who raised me (and continue to do so), and it seems like it really did take a village to raise me, and because of them I always find the strength to move on to greater and better things in my life.

Motherhood to me is acceptance.

Acceptance is something I have always wanted for most of my life. I have always wanted to be welcomed in and cared for, it is something even to this day I crave. As the youngest of four girls I felt alone quite often in my life. Not always left behind, but more just brushed aside at times, especially when I wasn’t too lovable. My mom had her hands full raising all of us, and I came around when the rules seemed a little bit more relaxed, and when they weren’t quite expecting another one.

“She was your little accident,” my grandmother had said.

“I didn’t accidentally have sex; she is my miracle,” my mother replied sassily.

My mother, from that first moment, accepted that I was coming into the world, and she has never stopped accepting who I am and who I am becoming. The next mothers I have known are the women at our various congregations of our church, all of them loving to watch me and guiding me in small, but meaningful ways. They are the women in my life who I still call my ‘Aunts’ even though there is no actual relation. These are also the women that my mother coins as her life-long friends. Helping her raise me with a shoulder to cry on when needed, complain to when I was being impossible, and being another ear for me to voice my opinion and give me some insight into what my mother must be feeling.

Motherhood means listening.

I have a wonderful friend named Elena, and when I felt like I had nowhere to turn and was feeling overwhelmed in college, she and her mother were there to lend a third party unbiased listening ear to me. Whenever I see Birute, Elena’s mom, I still run towards her yelling, “MOMMY!” And whenever I am over and can actually get my butt out of bed, I still spend some wee hours of the morning sharing a cup of coffee and a little bit of catch up with her.

Motherhood to me means hugs.

I know that is a young thought, but think about it. Still to this day, whenever I am upset, have problems, or just feeling overwhelmed, all I want is a mommy-hug. There is nothing like a hug from a mother. It is warm, comforting, and just allows everything to lift from your shoulders. The only thing stopping me from saying that magic doesn’t exist is the mom-hug. It feels magical and is the one thing that feels like an instantaneous problem solver. Call me crazy all you want, but mom hugs are magic.

All of my various moms have had all of these qualities, they all accept me wholeheartedly, they all have listened to my various (sometimes overly dramatic, yeah, I admit it), problems, and all of them are always willing to give me that hug that I need so much on a constant basis.

However, motherhood, to me, is a beautiful, unconditional, all-encompassing love and the beautiful part? You don’t even have to be related to show this motherly love to people. I should know.

Thank you all my wonderful mothers, you know who you are, and I hope you know that you all are definitely counted as my blessings.

~ Andreah

Three years and countless battles

Three years ago, I was 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant with a stubborn, stubborn baby who refused to come out. And if you think for one moment that that 1 day is insignificant, you have never been pregnant.

Her name is Lillian. And three years ago on this day she was born.

She was high up in my rib cage, far away from any exit strategy, and had made zero progress or move to come out. She was happy in there. Coming out was not her idea. And therefore, she would not participate or help in any way. This should have been a sign of things to come.

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Lillian has always forged her own way, doing things in her time on her schedule according to her plan. Always.

The doctor who performed the C-section to get her out of my belly said she had never seen a baby who was so overdue that high up before. She literally had to reach up into me to pull her out. After hanging out with Lillian for three years, I’m not surprised in the least that was the case.

She had a striking white patch in her black, black hair, just like her daddy. We knew this meant she had been born with the same genetic disorder Ben has. It was the talk of the nurses in the delivery room, our family, and anyone who met her. All I knew was all that hair was the cause for all of my heartburn during my pregnancy with her.

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She needed hearing aids and got them when she was just four months old. We were so new at the whole baby-with-hearing-aids thing that we had to be told by the audiologists that we shouldn’t let her have them in while we were driving because she’d probably eat them. They were right. She did.

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She also took them off and threw them, hid them, chewed them, lost them, delivered them to us, and generally gave us countless panic attacks around them (you try putting thousands of dollars of equipment in a baby’s ears and you tell me how calm you are).

She also rocked them. They were pink and she was and still is a rock star at every appointment, sitting still while molds are formed, while tests are run, while tubes are cut and while adjustments are made.

And she used them as an act of defiance when she was mad at us, looking us straight in the eyes while pulling them out and throwing them. Luckily they were attached by a cord and for a while tucked under a cap that made her look like she was a 1920’s bather or an old-school pilot, but still no one could lose her ‘ears’ like Lillian could.

Lillian was a candidate for a cochlear implant, giving her the potential to have near perfect hearing. Since she was completely deaf in her right ear and had a mild loss of hearing in her left ear, this was miraculous. It has since proved to be just that.

During the operation she was amazing, even collecting a Dr. Seuss as her anesthesiologist (at a children’s hospital! Seriously!). But afterwards she was true to form, pulling out three different IVs. And while I would have milked that operation for all it was worth, she was up and bouncing around like her normal self in no time afterwards.

Lillian has always been her own person, quiet and reserved in a new place, loud and rambunctious where she feels safe. Roaring like a tiger or ARGHing like a pirate at the top of her lungs. Lauding every fart or burp that comes out of her little body or anyone else’s for that matter. Reveling in chaos yet thriving in comfortable situations. Refusing to smile for posed pictures but cackling for anyone’s phone camera.

She is the buttliest of butts and I mean that in the nicest, kindest, most loving way possible. She has taught me the art of negotiation, the art of patience, the art of snuggling on the couch until she can’t sit still anymore. She has taught me that bravery often comes in the smallest of packages and that even though she was handed an extraordinary set of circumstances she is a completely normal kid.

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Today is her day and I’m so glad she is mine. Ours. In our family and in our lives.

Happy happy birthday, Lillian!

Love, Mama (a.k.a. Julia)