On Motherhood

Jennifer - Alexandria, Virginia
Entered on July 13, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe in the sudden and mysterious rush of motherly love.

I had always been a motherhood agnostic. It wasn’t that I didn’t want children. I just didn’t particularly like them, and I wasn’t sure I had the patience they required.

“All I’m saying is that I don’t know if I want kids,” I told my soon-to-be-husband one day as we were speeding over the East River on the Brooklyn Bridge. “And if you think I’m just going to wake up one day and decide that I do, you’re wrong. If I had to make a choice right now, the choice would be ‘no.’”

Two years into the marriage, everything changed. The desire for a child started as a whisper and became a roar in a matter of months. I could not wait for this wonderful man to father my children.

But first, the obstacles. Doctor worried that I suffered from a heart condition that could prove fatal if I were to get pregnant. After batteries of tests, the doctors gave us the all clear. I still remember, however groggily, lying on the hospital bed when the doctor told my husband and I that the test I had just had showed I was free of the condition.

“Go forth and multiply,” she said with a smile. And we went forth. Multiplying took a bit longer. Finally, after eight long months of trying, the little pink plus sign emerged on what we affectionately called the pee stick. We were so proud we left it sitting on the stairs for two days, just so we could see it as we walked by.

My thoughts drifted. I couldn’t believe the cliché of the feelings I experienced. I marveled at the fact that my body—my body!—could grow another human being. The little speck inside of me was, in my mind, already a baby, a toddler, suddenly a sullen teenager. Driving to work in my car, I marveled at the fact that this cluster of cells growing inside me would would someday too be able to drive.

And then, just one week after the test I started bleeding. The doctors called it a chemical pregnancy, so short the fetus never even had a heartbeat. It wouldn’t have shown up on an ultrasound, they told me.

“If only you hadn’t take the test,” friends and family commiserated. “You never would have known.”

But I had taken the test. I had been a mom, if just for one week. My lover and I had created life and in my heart and head I had spun that life out—all the way to sweet sixteen, my husband’s eyes smiling sheepishly back at me, a set of car keys in his hand.