By Karen Kleinkurt
I was sorting socks today to put them away and couldn't figure out which ones were my 10-year-old son's and which were my husband's. Suddenly, I had a flashback to the day my oldest son was born. I could see the doctor hold him up for me to see, just as clearly as if I were back in that labor and delivery room again. My first thought was "He's smaller than I thought he would be and why is he grey?" He was grey because the cord was wrapped twice around his neck. As soon as they unwrapped it, he pinked right up. I then started to think of the day my youngest was born. I actually watched him being delivered. When I am in labor and start to "push" I get really into my body and everything else just falls away. I remember the nurse saying "Karen - look down". They had turned him so he was facing me and I watched them pull him out.
I started to think of the first time I saw my boys, the first time I held them. The first things I said to them. There is nothing in the world like being pregnant. There is nothing like knowing that you have life growing inside you. There isn't a day that goes by that you aren't thinking about that baby. From the minute that test comes back positive, you are constantly, in the back of your mind, thinking "What will they look like? What will their demeanor be? How will I love this one like I love my first (second, third, etc.). Will it be a boy or a girl?" I joke with my kids all the time and tell them "I grew you". In essence, I really did. The day that you feel that person move inside you, the flutter in your stomach - like butterflies, but 10 times better and you can't wait to feel it again. And then you do. Soon, those "flutters" turn into kicks and pokes. My younges, who is now seven, used to literally move my entire stomach from one side to the other. You watch and try and figure out what body part is hitting you; the hand, the foot, the butt. Then, there's the nights the baby wants to move around, keeping you awake when you all you really want to do is sleep; I think that's just preparation for the sleepless nights that soon await you.
By the end of the pregnancy you can't wait to have that baby. You're tired, you're fat, you're bloated, and just really at the end of your rope. Days just drag on, everything is a chore. You're tired of being miserable and you're miserable because you're tired. But when the time comes for labor, whether your water breaks, you start with contractions, it's induced, or you're a scheduled cesarean section, there is no feeling like the excitement you feel. Suddenly, you have energy and you just want everything to be on fast forward to when you see that baby.
No matter how long your labor is, how hard, painful, tiring, or scary as soon as you see that child every other thought melts away. When the time comes for you to hold that child, kiss them, and welcome them into the world it's like you're the only person in that room, like no one else is there or listening. Your world changes forever in those few precious minutes. There is no going back. There are no do-overs. What you do with this tiny miracle from now on is up to you. It's a feeling like no other, a joy only a mother knows.
And no matter how old your child gets, when you look at them, you will always see that newborn baby. You will always remember "growing" that person. The first time you held them, kissed them, and spoke to them outside your body. There are no words to explain it, but the love of a mother and child is unconditional and a true gift. I feel privileged to have been able to experience it twice. I'm lucky and I'm blessed, which is why I think I get so overly excited when I hear people are having babies, because I know the process, and it's so wonderful. I pray for those who struggle with infertility and I hope that one day, they too will be able to hold a baby and feel the joy and the miracle that it is.
And I know one day someone else will be folding my son's socks, but they won't have the memories I do. They'll just have to make new ones. I hope that they will be as joyous as the ones I have made so far with my kids. In my heart, I know they will be.