Becoming Mom

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I find it incredible how quickly life can change. One minute you’re thinking, “I will never have kids and I will never be a mom!” and the next one you’re thinking, “How in the hell do I clean baby poop off the ceiling? And off the drapes, the couch, my shirt and my face?”

When I was 21 years old I was a free spirited college student. My main concerns were, “Will I ever see Nirvana live?” and “Is it possible to cook Ramen noodles using only tinfoil and a light bulb?” I had no boyfriend, one cat and lived alone 3,000 miles from home in an apartment off campus.  I was determined to live a recluse life and spend my spinster days rereading good books and baking desserts.  Hey, what can I say? I had a deep romance with brownies and John Irving.

I was truly happy back then. Sure, I would get lonely from time to time, but even the loneliness had this sweetly sad, pining, mysterious, almost magical quality. I was bucking the trend. I was living life on my terms. I didn’t need anyone. When my friends would say, “Darla, you’d make a great mom!” it was like they were suggesting I abandon all sanity and join the circus. Being a parent was a foreign concept to someone who could barely keep her angel fish alive in a tank.

My oh my how things change.

I met my husband when I was 27 and almost instantly wanted a baby. People throw around the term about a woman’s “clock ticking” like it’s an actual concept and I’m here to tell you it most definitely was for me. I felt this sudden deep inner longing to be a mom, it overtook my entire life. It’s hard to describe the feeling I had, that becoming a parent was somehow woven into the fibers of my soul.

Unfortunately, due to severe endometriosis we struggled with infertility for two years. At the age of 31, instead of a baby, I ended up with surgery to remove a large cyst and my right ovary.  The tumor was so large there was a good chance it was cancerous. I came out of surgery and was told it was benign and I would be okay.

I got pregnant again later that year only to lose the baby early on.  It’s hard even now to write about the anguish I felt, the raw pain of miscarrying. Like I was reaching out to touch a new life only to have it melt away before my eyes. I felt helpless, empty, lonely and like I was abandoned by God.  I felt there must be something “wrong” with me. The guilt, anger and shame were suffocating.

My doctor assured me that even with one diseased ovary, there was still a chance I’d get pregnant yet again.  I never lost that tiny hope that one day I would l have a precious baby in my arms, whether he came from me or we adopted and he came from someone else, it didn’t matter. He would be my son and I would love him with all my heart to the ends of the earth and back.

Of course, the month we gave up trying to get pregnant to explore other options was when my son decided to come down to earth so I could be his mom. Good one, God. I get it, you have perfect timing and also a twisted sense of humor.

Fate really has the upper hand. Life might not go as you had planned but sometimes that turns out to be a good thing.  Maybe even better than you ever dared to dream.  I look back now at this miracle and I’m still flabbergasted. I’m a mom of two incredible kids now. Two! For someone who used to go days only talking to her cat, this is not the life I had ever imagined.

And I wouldn’t change a thing.

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This post was inspired by my good bloggy buddy, Elyse from FiftyFourAndAHalf.
In her post When You Were 21 she asked us what life we were living at the age of 21 and how have things changed since then. Thanks, Elyse, I have wanted to write about my infertility struggle for awhile now and it felt good to get some of it out.

If you’d also like to write about your life at 21, feel free to comment here, there or write your own post about it.

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96 thoughts on “Becoming Mom

  1. Beautiful post, Darla! Thanks for sharing your struggles and triumphs. I did not experience these hardships, but I know there are many who did and will benefit from what you shared. Enjoy those kids – they sure do grow up (and go!) fast!!

  2. Beautiful post, Darla. I could feel your happiness, and it made me happy for you. I think sometimes we’re made to wait for the gifts in our life so that we can truly appreciate them when they arrive. I feel that way about my wife, and the blended family (two kiddos each) we now share.

    Cheers to you and to our gifts 😉

    1. Oh, your comment made my day, Ned! It’s true, sometimes we have to go through hell to get to heaven (isn’t that a song lyric?) Life is full of painful times and transitions it’s hard to remember the gloom and doom will eventually give way to some light again. I’m thrilled that you and your new family have found happiness.

  3. How poignant and lovely, Darla. I bet you’re a great mom – caring, tough when you have to be, but fun. You, your husband and your kids are all blessed.

    Kudos to Elyse for getting this going.

    1. Thanks, Peg. But it really was done for my friend. I just provided a forum for discussion. And then I had to gag myself! Life is just not fair, is it?

    1. I just went to their parent-teacher conference last night and heard the same thing over and over again: “Your kids are a joy to have in class!” They really are something, those two, very sweet and loving (most of the time!). I couldn’t ask for better kids.

  4. 21 was several lifetimes ago! That’s when I started to figure out that everything I was doing was because somebody expected it of me. I changed majors, moved in with my boyfriend and began exploring the idea of “what I want”. Still not sure where that’s taking me, but I’ve finally gotten to the point where those “expectations” are like water on a ducks back.

    1. I hear you. I’m turning 44 this year and still feeling like I’m floating down a river with no clear idea of where I’ll end up. But I’m starting to do things for “me” again and not for someone else. I look at how much I’ve changed since 21 and I know 21 years from now I’ll be amazed at my life again.

  5. kimberlybreuer says:

    It’s thought provoking to read this as a 22 year old. Maybe someday I’ll look back on my blogging days and wonder why I ever cared (or had the time) to write about the things I do. Interesting.

  6. Aww, this was beautiful, Darla. After all that, I’m so glad you were able to experience motherhood…twice!! 🙂

    I am finally just starting to feel my clock ticking, something I was sure would never happen to me. Me, kids? Never! But now…I hope I get to experience it some day .

  7. I am 45 and I can assure you, not every woman feels this clock. I never wanted children from 16 to now – which is nearly a generation … I am happy for not having some, but I am as happy for those who wanted children and have some! Each to her own.

  8. Beautiful post. You’ve referenced your fertility struggles in the past, and I’m glad you were able to write about them here. I hope it was cathartic for you. I am so happy that you were finally blessed with 2 little bambinos of your very own. Your friends were right about you, afterall.

    1. Aw, thanks, Misty! I’d like to think I’m a good mom. Sometimes I think I didn’t have much to do with it and I was just lucky to have such amazing kids (although they have driven me insane all winter)

  9. so heartfelt and honest. and i can’t believe how similar we are. i got married at 27 ultimately got pregnant at 31 after 2 years trying. i had two children after with a lot of intervention. 21 year old me couldn’t even father what 27 year old me wanted. we are both very lucky.

  10. It took me way to long to get here, but I am here and so very glad! For everything. For those beautiful kids, and for all the things that brought you to where/who/what you are now.

    Life, in my book, is about keeping options open and rolling with the punches.

  11. I totally get this, Darla! When Maycee’s dad and I married (I was 26) we were not going to have children. Since I had given a child up for adoption as a 16-year-old, I didn’t feel I deserved to have any more kids, and S didn’t seem to care. I was punishing myself and couldn’t imagine being “worthy enough” to be a mom. After much self-eval and the help of the 12 Steps of AA and sobriety, I realized that I didn’t need to keep punishing myself any longer. Then, at 30, wham! The clock struck loudly and it was like, “NEED TO HAVE BABY NOW”. Maycee’s dad freaked out, as he had settled into “life without kids” just fine. Lucky for us, it didn’t take long for me to get pregnant, or Maycee might not exist, lol. She is definitely a gift from God, I have no doubt, as are your kiddos! Love the pictures, and thanks so much for sharing your touching story here. XOXO-Kasey

    1. So happy you were blessed with Maycee. Things have a strange way of working out don’t they? Even when you go through lots of hard times. It’s true though, because of these painful times we are more able to appreciate the good things that come.

  12. Gorgeous, brave story, Darla.

    I never wanted children. And then, all of a sudden, I did. At 35.

    I have one boy. I would have liked more, but by the time I was ready, my body said, “No more.” I guess it was meant to be. It’s amazing how the universe works like that.

    Like giving you those two gorgeous kids, whom you so richly deserve. They’re lucky to have you as a mom, and you to have them, so it’s a win-win, no?

    xo,
    S

    1. Thanks, Samara. Your son came into your life at the right time for you.

      I find it incredible how fast my mind went from “I never want any kids” to wanting one more than anything. Each one came along under difficult circumstances. When I was 36, I suffered several more miscarriages before I had my daughter. I am beyond lucky to have both my kids.

      1. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I don’t know if there is anything quite as profoundly sad as wanting to be pregnant and miscarrying.

        The love we have for our children is this great cosmic force that unites all moms, isn’t it? All parents, fathers too. But there’s something about having carried them in our bodies…

        Like you, I feel lucky that I have my son. Every day.

  13. Thank you for sharing. It was a wonderful post. And it seems there are a lot of people out there like you that get pregnant when they finally stop trying. You have a very beautiful family.

    1. Thank you. When I was struggling to get pregnant, I had many people offer me advice and say “You have to let things go and it will happen” I thought they were full of it. But it actually was true in my case.

  14. Just found your blog by reading Martha’s. it seems I did things the opposite way round to you. At 21 I was just about to become a mum for the first time. Now my eldest son is 31 and I’m sitting here alone, very much enjoying my own company. 🙂

    1. I have friends who had kids straight out of high school and now they’re enjoying their empty nest. While I had a pretty good, carefree decade in my 20s. Happy to know you’re enjoying the quiet and solitude now.

  15. Beautiful post. You’ve inspired me… My next post will be a reflection of me at 21. Although the multiple pre-mommy LITs consumed that year coupled with the final year of undergrad studying make it all a big hard to remember :/

  16. What words of hope for those who are afraid to hope. Lovely job. I’m such a wiser person because of what my kids have taught me. May you continue to enjoy them forever.

    1. I feel like the older I get, I have a danger of becoming more jaded. My kids help set me straight because their hearts are still so pure, like mine used to be. Thanks for the kind words, Barb.

  17. Sorry to hear you went through all that, but so wonderful it worked out so well and you have those two gorgeous precious little ones! Well done for writing some brave serious stuff. Love that bottom picture of the three of you where your daughter is looking proudly at her bro!

    1. I found out yesterday from my daughter that her brother secretly kisses her on the cheek every morning before they get ready for school. I asked my son about it and he got all embarrassed. They love each other so much, even when they’re fighting.

  18. God does have a funny sense of humor, doesn’t He? But He always makes sure things work out for the best, so it’s all good. 🙂

    As for me, 21 wasn’t *that* long ago (I’ll be 29 this fall), but it already feels so far away. I was living on the other side of the Atlantic, a senior in college, biology major, determined to find a job at some research lab or other (as soon as I could figure out how to write up a decent resume and cover letter), and had a photography-obsessed boyfriend. Fast-forward 7 years and I’m living in France with my parents, bouncing around from one temp job to the next (none of which are even remotely related to my major), I’ve turned into a massive photography nut and sci-fi geek, and instead of a boyfriend I now have a cat. About the only things that have stayed the same are my faith and my horse obsession (neither of which are ever, EVER going to change). Is it what I pictured for myself back then? No, but I don’t think I’d change anything. I have been nagging God about finding a hubby soon though.

    1. Amazing how things work out. Now you’re in France with a cat. That sounds good to me!

      I didn’t go into it here on this post, but before I got pregnant with my son I had a pretty intense heart-to-heart conversation with God. I pray often in my life, but this was one powerful prayer in which I pretty much just gave up and said, okay, God, fine… whatever happens, happens. The next month I got pregnant with my son.

    1. My love sparkles, how I love that line.

      It is so hard for me to let things go, being a Virgo and a slight control freak. But I find when I do very good things start to happen. I have to trust in the universe, God, etc.

        1. Val, you are so gifted with words. Yes, if only I could learn hanging on sometimes creates more unnecessary pain. I am stubborn that way. As a Virgo you know we may be hard and critical of others, but even more so when it comes to ourselves.

          1. Self-criticism, nah. I am perfect in my imperfections. It is why I always buy those antique mirrors they hide all my flaws. My stubborn? It extends to every hurtful thing in my life, thinking if I only twist the knot tighter, turn it up just a little further the flames will lick hotter and I won’t feel it.

            We can only save ourselves, no one is going to ride their white BM’r in to pick us up from the debris of our choices to hang on. I am figuring that out now. Hurts, yes. Survivable? Yes. So, a good manicure. A good pedicure. Letting go, without being slammed through the brick wall of my own building. Maybe next I will buy a new modern mirror.

          2. “we can only save ourselves” Oh how true this is! I’m learning this now. Better late than never?

            I still have to learn to accept my flaws and not beat myself up for past mistakes. That is a tough one.

    1. Yay! I thank Elyse too because I really have a hard time writing about my struggles getting and staying pregnant. It’s such a downer for my normally light and fun blog. With a good outcome though.

      1. One of the things I’ve had to work to overcome is the feeling that I’d be a “downer” on my blog when I wrote about things that weren’t funny. But your blog can be anything you want it to be. It’s yours. I find that liberating. And it’s interesting, how it allows us to work through things we struggle with. I’ve written about a lot of things I could never say out loud. I think people might be surprised at my relative reticence about those things, given how much I’ve blathered about them on the blog. Funny how our personalities come through differently.

  19. Darla … Your children are just gorgeous. After two miscarriages, I gave birth to our first daughter. I was 28. When I had our second daughter, I was 30. Both were joyous occasions. The very best to you and your family.

    1. Sorry you know the pain of miscarriage, Judy. I think they are much more common and aren’t talked about often. Truly does make a person appreciate things, whether you go on to have a baby or adopt a baby. Being a mom is my life’s biggest blessing.

  20. Your kids are absolutely adorable – and I know firsthand. You never know how life is going to turn out, especially when you’re in the thick of the darkness or silence. But hope abounds and now you have two little gifts! My journey to mommyhood hasn’t been easy either but stories like yours encourage me so much!

  21. Darla, you wrote this post from your heart, and it was a joy to read. You are such an amazing writer, taking us right into the depths of what you were feeling. I can only imagine the painful memories even thinking about this post has brought up, but I am proud of you for pushing through and writing some of it down. I’m sure you’ll help many people suffering with similar issues by sharing so candidly about your own. And as always, your kids are DARLING. Hey, that sounds like your name. 🙂 It’s true, though. My mom likes to say that each of us gets just the kind of kids we can handle best. Looks like you’re a winner, for sure. Hugs! –Melissa

    1. You have made my day, Melissa. Thank you. This post was hard to write and required me to just let my feelings pour out with zero editing. I think those are my best posts because it’s the true me. Hope you’re doing well!

  22. about100percent says:

    What a great story. Thank you for sharing with us! I also know the feeling of saying “Nope. No kids for me” until I met my husband and suddenly I was entertaining fantasies of being pregnant and making chicken nuggets for my toddler’s lunch. What is that all about?

  23. No one can understand the heartache of miscarriage until they go through it. And then, when healthy children finally arrive, the accompanying mixture of emotions is impossible to describe. But you’ve come very close. Beautiful post, Darla.

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