The nurse mutters, “It’s a boy!” while lifting up his body for me to see. He lets out a faint cry to express his displeasure in the matter. It was obvious he was probably the 50th baby delivered that day, as their enthusiasm towards his entrance into this world was lacking immensely.
They took him away to wipe him off; the five feet between my son and I felt like a crater. What seemed like hours later, he was placed into my arms. He was swaddled up so tightly, looking like a giant potato rather than a baby. My head was spinning. He was serene, and looked deep into my eyes with his big, blue beauties. I swear my heart stopped beating. Not from happiness, but from panic.
We lied there, staring into each other’s eyes, spellbound. I waited. I waited for my instincts to kick in. Or to have the moment where I would envelope the “eternal bond” that motherhood brings. But it didn’t kick in. In fact, it wasn’t until this little boy was a week old that I could comfortably refer to him as “my son.”
You see, Baby Christopher’s entrance into this world was anything but conventional. On the day of his arrival, I was in the middle of my second semester of college, and just a mere two weeks past my 18th birthday. I had papers to write, places to see, and concerts to go to. Motherhood, at that point, presents itself as the ultimate evil: a detriment to my golden age.
To be perfectly honest, I had never wanted to have children. I wanted a career. I wondered why any woman would waste their precious 20s changing diapers, and chasing screaming, vomiting kids. I thought, “We are the women of the 21st century… we are no longer baby-bearing machines.” I saw children as a disease and motherhood as a trap.
Upon discovering I was pregnant, my whole world fell apart. And, although, I had nine months to get adjusted to the idea of his arrival, I was nowhere near ready on that warm February afternoon.
In Matthew 16, it is written, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
This passage always bothered me, as I was never willing to deny myself for Christ… or for anyone else, for that matter. I had been sucked into the dangerous American way of thinking: my goal was to become as successful as possible, trampling on anyone who dared to get in my way. But I was quickly initiated into a new way of thinking, as motherhood consists of daily sacrifice and denial of self for the love of your child.
Which, in turn, was God’s way of drawing me closer to Him.
Now, I have a handsome, jubilant 1 year old. Our schedules are hectic. Our lives are not perfect. The sacrifices are endless. However, in choosing to live for him instead of live for myself, I am rewarded with the joy of watching an incipient little boy discover the world.
Motherhood shouldn’t be viewed as an endless, life-sucking chore that inhibits us from our hopes and dreams, as it so often is portrayed today. Motherhood shouldn’t heed our abilities to do any of this. In fact, motherhood should only make it more outstanding that we are ruthless doctors, lawyers, and CEOs.
The daily self-sacrifices we make for our children only reflect back on us. It pushes all of our accomplishments from ordinary to extraordinary.
Women weren’t created to be baby-making machines. We also weren’t created to spend our lives trapped in a cubical, sacrificing a family for a career. We were created to juggle the impossible, and triumph.
Only we have the ability to give life to the next generation, all while bettering our own. In choosing life, I opened my eyes to the rewards of self-sacrifice, the beauty of my own life, and the endless possibilities it holds.
Brittany is a student and mother studying at Ave Maria University in rural sunny Southwest FL. She is currently studying BioChemistry and hopes to go into Obstetrics.