By Gayla Grace
At 38 weeks pregnant, Katie eagerly awaited the birth of her first child. Her pregnancy had gone well and she looked forward to what lay ahead as she arrived for her routine doctor exam. With little warning, as her heart began to race, she was to a nearby hospital for a more extensive ultrasound. The doctor said the baby appeared to have quit growing and needed to be examined further. After several tests, Katie learned the baby girl she had carried for nine months would never be normal. Her baby’s heart had two chambers instead of four and she likely had Down syndrome.
Katie’s doctor gave her the option to abort, which she declined. Upon admittance to the hospital for delivery to begin, a final ultrasound was administered. Tragically, the heartbeat couldn’t be found. Katie’s baby girl, Bliss Nicole, had died in utero. Katie was to endure delivery of a stillborn baby and cope with the devastating loss of her first child.
We often take the privilege of motherhood for granted, instead of a role to be cherished. Women suffer through infertility, stillborn births, and miscarriages every day. Some women lose the opportunity to complete their mothering role because of illness or death. We’re blessed to bear and raise our children.
It’s easy to overlook the important role we play as mothers, but the influence we have cannot be denied. We teach, we nurture, we counsel, we discipline, we taxi, we solve problems, we ease drama, we nurse wounds and so on. While the preschool years have days that never end, the teenage years have days that take flight. Before we’re ready, our babies begin to drive, graduate from high school, start college, and venture out on their own. Time runs out for those positive parenting moments we intended to have. The daily influences we take for granted to mold our children change to parenting snapshots via text messaging, late-night conversations, and crisis intervention.
Motherhood provides meaning to life we wouldn’t otherwise experience. Although not always easy, life without children wouldn’t be the same. The lessons we learn while raising children aren’t taught in school: how to make it through a long day after enduring a colicky baby all night, how to rid your child of lice without setting her hair on fire, how to stay calm when the attendance office reports your teenager has skipped school, or how to pay for unexpected accidents with a new driver. As our kids grow older, we learn how to let go when our 18-year-old leaves for college and how to move on when our young adult announces wedding plans.
Mothers offer unending selflessness with little guarantee of what lies ahead. We endure heartache and disappointment; we celebrate victories and accomplishments. We refuse to give up when our child goes astray, or turn our back when our child rebels. The well-known saying relays it best: “No one loves me like my mother.”
Motherhood never truly ends. Whether your mom lives next door or out-of-state, she’s always a phone call away. When my job ended in my young adult years, Mom was the first to know. When my children were born, she celebrated with me. When I endured a difficult divorce, she walked with me. When I struggled as a single parent, she encouraged me. When I celebrated marriage again with a new family, she congratulated me.
Now, as my mom approaches her sunset years, I seek to be there for her. Our roles reverse as I watch the effects of Alzheimer’s grip her failing mind. The care-taking role goes full circle: sacrificial love and devotion without end.