Healing through Motherhood
This was posted a couple of months ago at Feminist Mormon Housewives. It is the epilogue to my first post “Waiting to be healed.”
I never thought much about being a mother. Of course, I always assumed I would be one because it’s just what you do, but motherhood was always an ambiguous concept that I refused to think about. I was focused on graduate school and the brilliant career I was going to have as a feminist historian. And then I got married and graduate school didn’t happen but pregnancy did.
All of a sudden, I found myself in a situation that I had never thought about, not even imagined. I was so conflicted, knowing that I should have been happy but feeling so incredibly inadequate. I couldn’t be a mother; I had no mothering skills at all and I didn’t like babies. More than anything, I was afraid that I would pass on all my insecurities to this child. I did not want to let my own frustration with life damage him the way my parent’s had me. I felt myself falling into the darkness that consumes. The hopelessness inside me was overwhelming, almost as if I had been buried alive. Pregnancy released the painful memories from my childhood that I had worked so hard to forget about. The loneliness and fear I had felt as a child came crashing down on me until I could hardly breathe.
The waves of hopelessness pounded me for months until one Sunday, sitting in Sacrament Meeting, I heard the Lord speak. “The child will heal you.” I felt a wriggle in my womb as if the baby I carried was trying to assure me of this truth. Something other than myself knew that being this child’s mother would provide the balm to my weary soul. A calm in the storm came and so I waited.
The day of my delivery arrived. It was long and exhausting. I had chosen to have my baby in a birth center so I could have a natural childbirth. I wanted to feel every contraction, every movement. I wanted to touch the power of womanhood. As I transitioned, the pounding waves came again, but this time they were physical and primal. I pushed for two hours; wondering through each contraction whether this would be the one to snuff out my life. And then I felt Her. The love was unbelievable. I was surrounded by my husband, mother and father, sister and two midwives, but theirs was not the only love I felt. My unnamed Mother, the one that I had so often longed for was with me, stroking my damp hair and holding me through the pain. I could not voice Her presence but I know She was there.
That night, as my husband lay sleeping, I tried to calm my beautiful newborn son. As he fussed and cried, I felt the familiar panic rise up in my throat. I saw the sadness in his big, blue eyes and I did not know how to comfort him. Tears came to my eyes as I felt my inadequacy; but without thinking, a simple tune escaped my lips. My crying child quieted. As I sung those cherished words of the realization of a Mother, my son, the child sent to heal me, looked at me with the deep perception that only newborns posses, as if to say, “I know, Mama. She is with us.” I felt Her presence and Her overwhelming love for me and my son. She has been with us ever since, whispering in my ear, lovingly instructing me how to be a mother. And that has healed me.
It was a treat to read this one again :)I had some of those special post-birth revelations with my kids, where I looked into their eyes and we spoke soul-to-soul. They are precious memories for me. Maybe I’ll write about them someday myself…
I would love to hear about those, Jana. There is something really amazing about that time right after giving birth. I’m looking forward to experiencing it again sooner or later.
I think you are lucky to have experienced something spiritual with birth and motherhood. I never really have. Birth was anything but spiritual for me. And I've never felt the presence of the Mother, either. That's something very special.
I have never read this, even though I have heard you talk about your experience in real life a few times. Thank you for telling your story in such a moving way. I did not have the same feelings as I gave birth (although it was profound), but I did have a spiritual awakening to my female power after having my second child. Specifically, that I can bless them by putting my hands on their small bodies and tapping into the interconnectedness of spirituality that surrounds us. It is difficult to explain, but meaningful to me to feel that power.
Reading this just about made me cry. I think you captured EVERYTHING I've been feeling the last little while. I LOVED how you were told that your child would heal your heart. I've found so many of my doubts, fears, angers and frustrations about being a woman healed through motherhood. God knows what we need more than we do. Thank you for this post. It is beautiful.
Googled "Healing through motherhood" as I thought this would perfectly sum up the last few months of my life… this blog came up, and I can totally identify to your experience. I am grateful every single day for having been admitted to the big circle of mothers. Like you, I did not think much of motherhood, because I was made to believe that having children would tie me up and prevent me from being myself. It turns out I have never felt freer and better about myself than at the moment.
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