Three years and three months ago I became a mother to a living, breathing, beautiful son. 18 months before I had suffered the loss of my first child ever conceived at just six weeks. Nine months of turmoil, anger, and pain that slowly dulled but never disappeared followed with seemingly everyone around me having perfectly healthy pregnancies that resulted in perfectly healthy children. After giving my anger up to God, asking forgiveness for my resentment that had grown from my own bitterness and feelings of insecurities, I was able to conceive and thus had my first son. He was named after a great-grandfather but his name grew prophetic when I realized I was just like the first recorded mother to name her son Samuel in that I knew God had heard me and gave me the son I wanted.
Approximately 17 months later our second son was born. Isaiah was our chunky bubbly baby who loved, and still loves, to cuddle. His pregnancy was fine and he was most certainly perfectly healthy, weighing in at 10 pounds 6 ounces at birth with an appetite to boot.
All my children have been joy to me, and no doubt all mothers go through times in their pregnancies when they feel scared or anxious about the birth or time that comes after. But never was I more scared than when I found out my third (fourth) child was to be a daughter.
When I had my miscarriage, I knew inexplicably in my heart that the child would have been a girl. She was due to make her appearance on or around November 17th. Now here I was with a healthy pregnancy, a daughter inside me, due on October 31st but I knew would instead come in November. I had come full circle and it terrified me.
I tried talking to others about this fear; my husband said I was always nervous and became scared near the end and my friends most likely thought I was half-crazy. In the end I agreed with my husband and tried to shrug off the almost consuming terror that made my heart skip a beat and randomly popped into the corners of my mind but never had a name. Never had I thought having a girl would be different than boys beyond the hair bows and overabundance of pink. I couldn’t pinpoint where the fear was coming from. I had theories, mostly conspiracy ones, but when I finally allowed myself to look within and allow God to show me, I knew.
My mother passed away when I was eight years old. I never had the opportunity to create that unique mother-daughter bond that grows and deepens with time. Mother figures in my life came and went, not just my father’s new relationship but other women I deeply respected in my life. Yet I never felt that complete sense of belonging, of what it is like to be a mother’s daughter. And now here I was expected to assume the mother position of this precious relationship and I felt as if I did not have solid ground to walk on. How was I to take the reign as mother to a daughter when the thought of all the pink made me cringe? Sure, purple is always a good option, but not all daughter crises are so easily fixed. And not all parts of a relationship can be shrugged off, nor should they be, with defense mechanisms (I really like pink, but convince myself there is a limit).
I prayed. I prayed and asked for womanly grace and knowledge and hoped all the mother instincts I had ever possessed would kick in to full gear by the time she arrived. I cried. I cried at night in bed if my husband stayed up later and I knew I would be alone and no one would see or hear my fear. I prayed more that I was not half crazy or full crazy or just expecting the worse like I tend to do. But the unknown is always fearful; new relationships, even ones without preconceived notions from the other person are scary. I knew that all my daughter would expect from me in the beginning was to be fed and cuddled and kept clean and safe and warm.
But I was questioning everything: would it be different or weird to nurse a girl as opposed to a boy? Would I be able to get leggings or tights on those wiggly little legs? Would her hair be easy to put in bows when I can barely manage a simple ponytail in my own? Would she have hair? Would I secretly end up liking all the pink? What about her name? I believe all names should have a meaning and say a lot about a person (Aiden, or “fiery,” is a perfect middle name for my oldest, rambunctious one) but a girl’s name sets the stage in a world where stereotypes and name associations create prejudgments about a person.
I knew I had to stop, to trust God that all was well and would be well. I prayed almost every day that she would grow healthy and strong and would be perfect. Selfish? Definitely. But when one is terrified self-preservation often kicks in and selfishness can occur. I prayed for our bond, our relationship. And it wasn’t until the day before my induction that I felt a peace, that all would be well with her.
Those nine months of anxiety, particularly the last four, probably sound ridiculous to others. I know my relationship with my sons is just as important; I am responsible for teaching them what a real lady is like and what to love and respect in other women. Daughters are often seen as strictly a mother’s territory. Fathers have an extremely important role in their daughters’ lives and research has even shown it. But when puberty comes and the first bra or the first kiss or the first breakup and all the tidal waves of emotions existing there and in between, a mother understands. And it is the mother that is there to pick up the fragile pieces of the daughter and cradle her tender spirit in her love and help mold and mend her. Daughters play in their mother’s shoes and jewelry with hopes of filling those shoes one day and every mother hopes and prays her shadow is one her daughter wants to walk in, to walk beyond and shine on her own because of the love her mother taught her and with full confidence her mother has taught her to be a woman.
Have I thought too far ahead? Looking at my 9 day old daughter sleeping, I think perhaps I have. I tend to plan by nature and have thought about my responsibilities that are coming throughout the years to this little girl. So, here we go. I plunge a little further into motherhood, exploring new ground and learning more joys along the way. Isaiah hands me a toy truck and plush Donald Duck and I smile at the simple joy on his face as he proudly shares his toys. I think about all the growth we will experience in our little girl, our little Haddie- named after the Jewish queen born “for such a time as this”-, in the next year and Sam growing in his responsibilities as the oldest brother. And I smile. And pray. And thank God for the beautiful unknown.