By Dana Gornall
To all the mamas:
To the ones that stayed up all night for feedings and diaper changes. Who lost so much sleep because of middle of the night bad dreams and upset tummies. Who became so sensitive to the sounds of irregular breathing that one small change would wake her from a sound sleep to scale the hallway in the middle of the night just to check and be sure that all was okay.
To the ones that read stories every night—sometimes the same story twice, or three times or maybe even four.
Who memorized every word of the book. Who explained again for the six hundredth time why it ended the way it did. Who stopped watching her favorite television show because she would much rather cuddle in her bed or her child’s bed with a favorite book. Who often would fall asleep in that child’s bed, only to wake at three or four in the morning, with sticky eyes and a dry mouth, and make her way to her own bed.
To the ones that chose to put their careers on pause. Who decided that even though there were things she thought she always wanted in life, suddenly none of those things mattered as much anymore. Who swapped out coffees at Starbucks for Maxwell House, and nice shoes and earrings for yoga pants and flip flops. Who took down their pretty artwork she had so carefully chosen for all the right colors and to fit all the right moods, and replace with the crayon colored notebook papers and finger painted blobs. Who likes this artwork much better, anyway.
To the ones who kept their careers or jobs.
Who cried everyday when she dropped them off at daycare. Whose heart tugged and dropped when she saw their tiny backs run away from her to find new friends and new experiences without her. Who learned to use a breast pump at work, and in the car, and in bathrooms and in every imaginable place. Who fought for equal rights in the workplace for women and mothers. Who endured years of always being tired and never quite being enough for anyone. Who showed up to work trying to look as professional as possible, only to find she had a Cherrio stuck in her hair. Who opened up her briefcase at work and a Matchbox car rolled out. Who wore handmade jewelry to work made from uncooked pasta. Who thinks of her children during business meetings and lunches and feels constantly pulled in every direction.
To the ones that waited to become pregnant. Who waited and wished for the right person to start a family. Who imagined the feel of a baby in her arms. Who may have struggled, and hoped and prayed and wanted. Who read books and went to doctors and had tests. Who wondered if she somehow failed, or wasn’t quite right or if it would ever happen. Who rejoiced and cried when it finally happened. Who waited on baited breath every day and every moment during the entire pregnancy. Who endured the most pain she had ever felt during labor. Who had her body cut open while awake and numb, and heard the cries of that baby that she waited and wanted for so long.
To the ones that didn’t plan for it.
Who may have been going through life and on one path only to be derailed and turned toward another without a plan. Who was probably scared and unsure and maybe a little regretful. Who may have wished she could change things—to go back in time and make different choices. Who even though she had these thoughts and these worries, felt her heart break open into tiny pieces when this unplanned, unthought out baby became a reality in her life. Who would now, not have it any other way than it is. Who is grateful for things that don’t go as planned.
To the ones who for whatever reason became mothers of children that they didn’t birth. Who opened up their houses and kitchens and bedrooms to ones that were motherless. Who learned a different way to love—the kind that isn’t immediate but grows and shapes in unexpected ways. Who wonders if she can be enough of a mother to this one that had a mother before her.
To the ones that chose to give their babies up. Who knew deep down that she could not be the person that could raise this baby. Who knew that there were others that would do better. Who wasn’t ready to be this person and so made this terrible and wonderful and life changing choice to take the being that is flesh and blood and bone of her own and place it in another’s heart. Who will always wonder if she made the right choice, but hopes and prays that she did. Who knows deep down that she did. Who hopes one day that they meet again.
To the ones who had the most unimaginable thing happen and lost their baby. Who felt their world be turned upside down and on its side—as though her heart had been severed from her body. Who lost a piece of herself forever afterward, that will never be complete again, no matter how much time has passed. Who still dreams of her child, talks to her child, feels her child. Who knows the intimate sensation of always being connected, even when she is laughing, or shopping, or eating or playing. Who will never forget.
To the ones that feel their lives will never be the same again.
Who has grown a new heart for each child in her life. Who has learned how to have more than two hands and more than two arms. Who learned what it was like to truly be tired, in so many ways. Who learned to be both separate and one, connected yet apart, whole and empty. Who became two people, herself and someone more, someone better, someone that is bigger than she thought she could be.
To all the mommies, mamas, moms and mothers. For every day.